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Full text of "Omni Magazine (March 1991)"

DICK CHENEY: THE FUTURE OF MILITARY POWER 



nnm] 




4ARCH 1991 



BACH TO THE FUTURE: COMPUTER MUSIC GROWS UP 
ROBOTS: THE NEXT STAGE IN EVOLUTION? 
WHY SUCCESSFUL PEO" 




onnrui 





EDITOR IN CHIEF & DESIGN DIRECTOR: BOB GUCCIONE 








PRESIDENT: KATHY KEETON 








EDITOR: KEITH FERRELL 








CHAI-HIOS r.l'IRLCTQri: F^AW. DEVINO 








MANAGING EDITOR: PHIL SCOTT 








ART DIRECTOR: DWAYNE FLINCHUM 








26 


10 






First Word 






Mind 


By Dick Cheney 






By Janel Bladow 


The Berlin 






What do Donald Trump, 


Wall's down; female military 






Ivan Boesky, 


enrollment is up. 






and Gary Hart have in 


The U.S. secretary of 






common? They 


defense reveals 






were victims of their 


how defense policy is 






own success: 


being shaped by 






The immense pressures 


the end of the Cold War 






they faced 


and the ongoing 






upon their climb to the 


technological and political 






top caused 


revolutions. 






them lo tumble back 


12 






down the 


fc,, 


#>'""' ^^ s *«* "■ '■- —^ 


ladder of success. 


Forum 


m 


JLvmmw \ ■ 


30 


By Keifh Ferrell 






Astronaut Michael Collins 




ASSfijM 


Earth 


makes a case 


■ 


By Steven Scott Smith 


for a manned mission 




Frozen in time: 


to Mars. 




vfl ml ^mmmw 


Gases and other elements 


14 


m 


"^^™ m 


trapped in 
ancient layers of ice in 


Omnibus 


Greenland are 


The Who's Who 






yielding clues to the 


of contributing authors 






future behavior 


18 

Communications 






of the atmosphere. 

33 


Readers' writes 






Continuum 


22 






Diverse species of plants 




Expect the unexpected, such as the 


live in 


Space 


free-floating headphones and omniscient eyes in the 


harmony on the Irish 


Storms in the ionosphere 




sky in the untitled painting on this 


coast; the 


can disrupt vital 


montl 


's cover, in the work of artist/journalist Theo 


truth about Billy the Kid; 


satellite communications. 




Rudnak, which tends toward the 


stress and 


New sensors 


surrealistic. What you can expect in his paintings is 


stupidity; the littlest 


will help forecast nasty 




open sky or space and geometric 


moon; electric 


space weather. 


shapes placed with mathematical precision, 


tricycles; and more. 


OMIMI (ISSN 0149 57 r 


is pushed 


moiUMy .n the Urwod Slates enO CanaQ. by Or™ PubicaMna Mm 


s-ni'iA I'd.. 1965 Broad- 


Send adore-as ;t ; , 
1991 oyOrrn-'jbi^il 






fit 


. 07601. DGtrti.rac .-. ii 






a cb-iic-n:i -jp^njileci 


Nothing may be repro- 








persons menvoied ir 
AFO— S24 c-kj year: C 




■■ '■',.. . 7 iVts^FO ardC 


'■ #S!Zi*k 




H*^u 




You always come back to the basics. 





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Bach to the Future 

By Gurney Williams III 

Roll over, 

Beethoven, and tell 

Tchaikovsky 
the news. Composer 

Tod Machover 

of the MIT Media Lab 

is creating new 

computer-based musical 

instruments that 

sound, literally, like 

nothing ever 

heard before. Never 

again will it 

be the same old song. 

50 

MechAnimals 

By Tom Dworetzky 

Have artificial 

intelligence researchers 

been aiming too 

high by attempting to 

simulate the 

thought processes of the 

human mind? 
Some scientists think so 

and have turned 
their attention from human 

intelligence to 
something simpler — -animal 

intelligence. 

Will mechanical cats soon 

chase robot mice? 

63 

Pictorial: Photosynthesis 

By Isaac Asimov 

Take water and carbon 

dioxide, add 

sunlight, and voila! Oxygen 
and food. 

Computer-enhanced 

photos of 

a complex process that 

gives us air. 




Interview 

By Esther Wanning 

An aftershock 

of the 1989 San Francisco 

earthquake was 

finding that seismologist 

Allan Lindh had 
predicted it in 1983.-. Now 

he's trying 

to make quake prediction 

and warning 

a more exact science. 



Antimatter 

Make your own fake 

UFO photo 

with a model, some 

string, and a 

home computer; Cremora 

■ from heaven; 

Bigfoot : s European 

cousin; Valium 

and UFO abductions; 

getting ghosts 

on tape; and more. 



102 

Star Tech 

Binoculars, cameras, 

and video 
printers: Focus in on 

the future 
of video products. 

104 

Games 

By Scot Morris 

For the science-minded 
philatelist: Stamps 
riddled with scientific 

errors, all 
with factual bloopers, 

physical 
impossibilities, or goofs. 

106 

Computer Games 

By Bob Lindstrom 
And the winner 
' is... This survey of 
the best games 
of the year honors the 
tops in such 
categories as role- 
playing games, 
arcade games, puzzle 
games, strategy 

games, and 
adventure games. 

108 

Last Word 

By Khephra Burns 
You think watching hours 

of television 

is harmful to young minds? 

In the twenty-first 

century, reading can kill 

you. Beware 

the dreaded compulsive 

literacy disorder: 

For the thousands of 

OLD victims, 

well-read is dead. 



56 

Fiction: The Last Surviving Veteran of 
the War of San Francisco 

By Robert Silverberg 
In a North America made up of independent city-states, 

James Crawford is taken from his nursing 

home to the Empire of San Francisco for the centennial 

celebration of the war in which he was a hero. 



FIRST WORD 



DEFENDING DEFENSE; 

The ever-changing technological arena warrants 

continued advances in U.S. military forces 




Americans have every reason to 
be proud of our forces standing 
against aggression in Saudi Ara- 
bia and the Persian Gulf. They are 
dedicated and well-trained volun- 
teers running the world's most ad- 
vanced ships, aircraft, and weap- 
ons systems. What many people 
do not realize is that most of the 
technology we rely on today, in 
the Gulf and elsewhere around 
the world, was developed and 
built years, even decades ago. 

One of the first ships to re- 
spond to the Mideast crisis was 
the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Ei- 
senhower, its keel laid in 1970, be- 
fore many of the young sailors run- 
ning the ship were born. F-15A tac- 
tical fighters were first test-flown 
in 1972, and F-16 fighter aircraft 
first flew in 1976. We rely on 
these and other advanced sys- 
tems to give us the edge in any 
potential conflict. But in today's 
changing world, we cannot take 
that technological edgeforgrant- 
ed. We need to start building for 
our defense in years to come, 

Our defense has long depend- 
ed upon matching numerically su- 
perior enemies with qualitatively 
superior' forces. But keeping this 
technological advantage requires 
time and effort. With a smaller 
American military and smaller 



budgets, it is more important 
than ever to think in new ways 
about our defense requirements. 
The threat to our security is 
changing. A growing number of 
countries are acquiring highly so- 
phisticated military arsenals. By 
the year 2000 at least 15 devel- 
oping nations will have the ability 
to build ballistic missiles, and 
more than half of those countries 
either have, or are near to acquir- 
ing, nuclear capabilities. Thirty 
countries will have chemical weap- 
ons, and ten will be able to deploy 
biological weapons. Advanced 
■technology can make third-class 
powers into first-class threats. 

We cannot yet dismiss the So- 
viet Union's large, increasingly 
modern nuclear forces. And even 
with recent and projected bud- 
get cuts, production of new Sovi- 
et strategic forces is still brisk. 
Last year, for instance, the Sovi- 
ets deployed more than 100 inter- 
continental ballistic missiles; we 
deployed none. They have a new 
version of their heavy SS-18 
ICBM, along with two new missile 
types; and in their intercontinen- 
tal bomber fleet, new Bear H and 
Blackjack aircraft are being 
equipped with longer-range 
cruise missiles. 

It may be tempting to ignore 
these realities in light of our opti- 
mism about Soviet reform. But the 
fact remains that deterrence, now 
and in an uncertain future, de- 
pends not only on Soviet inten- 
tions but also on Soviet knowl- 
edge of American capabilities. To 
keep a stable balance of forces, 
and to be in a strong position to 
encourage further arms reduc- 
tions, we need to continue our pro- 
gram of strategic modernization. 

These goals depend on our 
technological superiority, on break- 
throughs in weapons design like 
stealth technology. Potential ad- 
versaries must know U.S. forces 
could respond to aggression by 
penetrating high-tech air defens- 
es. That kind of credible deterrent 



will depend on new-generation air- 
craft, ships, tanks, and. other weap- 
ons systems whose configura- 
tions and special materials make 
them more difficult to detect and 
defend against. 

Missile defense is another im- 
portant application of advanced 
technologies. Recently we've 
been perfecting a system of mis- 
sile interceptors deployed in a low 
space orbit, the Brilliant Pebbles 
concept. Each Brilliant Pebble con- 
sists of a single space vehicle 
with a "life jacket" that stores en- 
ergy and control systems. As at- 
tacking missiles are first boosted 
into space, Brilliant Pebbles 
would find and destroy them, mak- 
ing a surprise missile attack on us 
too difficult and complex to risk. 

Overall, within the U.S. Defense 
Department we have identified 20 
critical technologies— including mi- 
croelectronics, software, directed 
energy, robotics, and propulsion— 
that are essential to advances in 
weapons capabilities. 

Army experts are thinking 
ahead to new, all-weather day/ 
night sensors and low-cost tacti- 
cal satellites that would enable 
our soldiers to detect and engage 
enemy forces effectively. 

Innovative thinkers in the Navy 
and the Defense Advanced Re- 
search Projects are looking at elec- 
tric-drive propulsion, a concept 
that has the potential to revolution- 
ize ship design and provide en- 
ergy for advanced weapons sys- 
tems. And finally, Air Force scien- 
tists continue to study advanced 
aircraft engines that provide 
more power and thrust with lower 
fuel consumption. 

Some people may look at to- 
day's highly capable defenses 
and wonder whether research in- 
to further advances is worth the 
effort and cost. I hope they will 
look back at the investments that 
brought us today's strong de- 
fense. Our ability to overcome to- 
morrow's threats depends on 
what we do today. DO 



FDRunn 



CAN SPACE STILL SING? 

A former astronaut urges America to rediscover 

the romance of space exploration 



| g± | hen Michael Collins 
I talks, people should lis- 
\S %J ten. After all, he's 
been to the moon. 

Collins is talking now in a 
good new book, Mission to Mars 
(Grove Weidenfeld). His argu- 
ment is simple: We as a nation, 
and we as a species, need to re- 
discover the excitement and ex- 
uberance of manned space explo- 
ration. And Mars is the goal Col- 
lins selects as most attainable 
and most appropriate for this 
next stage of interplanetary effort, 

Why Mars? For Collins it was al- 
ways Mars. "You might say I 
went to the wrong planet," he 
says of his Apollo mission. "I got 
sent to the moon, but I've been 
fascinated by Mars since I was a 



Mars 
has loomed for 
centuries 
in our imagina- 
tions. Isn't 
it about time the 
red planet 
became the goal 
of the U.S. 
space program? 



kid." He feels, and communicates 
in his book, the romance that sur- 
rounds the red planet in our imag- 
inations. Equally well communicat- 
ed is the romance of exploration, 
of humans moving out permanent- 
ly through the solar system. 

Many ol us recognize that ro- 
mance and recognize as well 
that the public's love affair with 
space exploration has grown tar- 
nished — which is one of the rea- 
sons Collins wrote his book. The 
dream of space exploration by hu- 
mans, so vivid during the Apollo/ 
Skylab years, has been buffeted 
by tragedy, budget cuts and def- 
icits, technological mistakes and 
miscalculations. A certain wari- 
ness can be felt in the general pub- 
lic: Why spend more money on 
space when the money we've al- 
ready spent doesn't work? Why 
spend money out there when we 
have problems back here? 

The wariness is understanda- 
ble, especially in light of continu- 
ing government cutbacks and 
shortfalls in the domestic arena. 
"Clearly the federal government 
faces challenges in taking care of 
citizens today," Collins says. "The 
problems are horrendous — crime, 
AIDS, education, health care. But 
the space program doesn't take 
money away from those programs 
and never has." 

Funding for a Mars mission and 
the support architecture such a 
mission would require will be con- 
troversial. Even conservative es- 
timates of the cost of building a 
space station, mounting returns 
to the moon, and missions to 
Mars call for tens of billions of dol- 
lars. No small sums in the best of 
times, such astronomical invest- 
ments are easy targets in times of 
recession. But Collins is persua- 
sive and, I think, right when he 
says manned space exploration 
■ and colonization is not about mon- 
ey. It's about the future. 

A case can be made — and Col- 
lins makes it— for space being 
among the most practical uses of 



our taxes. "It's not sensible or rea- 
sonable to spend all our resourc- 
es on today," Collins says. "We've 
got to put aside a little bit of ev- 
ery dollar for tomorrow." 

No question that the money 
needs to be well spent. We're at 
a crucial point in the evolution of 
our extraplanetary efforts.. It's a 
point that demands careful con- 
sideration and reflection on the 
part of taxpayers as well as the 
government and the space pro- 
gram itself. As we assemble a re- 
alistic vision of renewed growth 
and etfort aimed at exploring the 
universe, our vision is informed by 
lessons learned over the past 
three decades. We will be rebuild- 
ing our space program and the 
equipment on which it rests, but 
we won't be starting from 
scratch. Thirty years of advances 
in materials science, computer 
hardware and software, under- 
standing of complex propulsion 
systems, and yes, the lessons 
hard learned from setbacks, mis- 
takes, and catastrophes will all 
help ensure that the next genera- 
tion of vehicles and missions 
work better, more efficiently, and 
more effectively than even the 
best of previous undertakings. 

They'll have to: Upcoming 
space ventures will be larger, long- 
er, and more complex than any- 
thing we've attempted, Above all, 
we must aim our efforts toward es- 
tablishing ourselves permanently 
in space. We can't afford more 
dead-end missions aimed at po- 
litical or other short-term goals. 
We're dealing with the future, and 
we must take the long view. 

"Exploration," Michael Collins 
says, "is NASA's lifeblood." He's 
right. It's also the lifeblood of our 
species. It's a song that sings in 
all of us. For the species, the 
whole of the species, the whole 
of the world, to prosper and 
grow, we must continue to look out- 
ward, aim outward, move out- 
ward. Mars, anyone? 

—Keith FerrellDO 



onnruiBus 



SHAKE, RATTLE, AND ROLL: 

Our writers get down and boogie at MIT and " 

stir up some seismological dust 



Contributors, 

clockwise 

from bottom: 

Steven 

Scott Smith, 

Esther Wanning, 

Tom Dworetzky, 

and Pat Janowski. 



□ o you suspect your par- 
ents omitted something 
when they told you 
about the birds and the bees? 
Well, don't. blame them — unless 
they're radical-thinking artificial in- 
telligence experts. The first inter- 
national Al conference in Paris 
brought together researchers who 
have pushed aside their more am- 
bitious programs for something a 
bit more modest — Mother Nature. 
Contributing editor Tom Dworet- 
zky ("MechAnimals," page 50) ex- 
plores the latest invasion of robot- 
ic birds and bees or, as Al experts 
call them, "animats."TheAI com- 
munity's efforts focus on creating 
animats that learn and adapt to 
a realistic environment — one that 
is not predictable. "The research- 
ers' approach is more primitive, 
but learning and adapting may be 
the better part of what we call in- 



telligence," Dworetzky says, 
can envision a time when these 
robots will become autonomous. 

The idea of autonomous ro- 
bots, of course, is not new to sci 
ence-fiction fans. In Isaac Asi 
mov's 1976 short story "The Bicen- 
tennial Man," for example, robot 
Andrew Martin fights for, and 
wins, equal rights. "It's not my 
fault if science finally catches up 
to my simpler notions," Asimov 
says. In this month's pictorial 
(page 63) he directs his attention 
to "Photosynthesis." 

Researchers al MIT's Media 
Lab are jamming to a new wave 
of music technology. Former 
Omni editor Gurney Williams HI 
("Bach to the Future," page 42) 
met with Tod Machover, the direc- 
tor of the Experimental Media Fa- 
cility, who introduced Williams to 
sounds never heard before. "The 




technology extends anyone's mu- 
sicianship," says Williams, a sixth- 
grade piano lesson dropout. 
"More important, though, the tech- 
nology is nothing without human 
input." The coauthor of Psychol- 
■: An introduction (McGraw- 
t Hill) with Dr. Arno Wettig, Wil- 
' liams frequently lectures on 
the future-. 

In Parkfield, California, half- 

I way between San Francis- 

| co and Lo's Angeles, the 

Parkfield Cafe staff awail:- 

the next major earthquake. 

I Outside, a sign proclaims, 

EARTHQUAKE CAPITALOFTHE 

J WORLD— BE HERE WHEN IT 

I happens. Seismologist Al- 
1 Ian Lindh (Interview, page 
I 68) and writer Esther Wan- 
ning traipsed around 



Parkfield while discussing seismol- 
ogy and earthquake prediction. 
"Lindh is kind of an old hippie who 
has found satisfaction in an odd 
manner," says Wanning, the au- 
thor of Culture Shock USA 
(Times Books International), a 
Miss Manners-like book for for- 
eign travelers. Wanning has also 
written for The New York Times 
and the San Francisco Chronicle. 
She left. Parkfield without trying 
one of the cafe's shakes. 

Imagine you are a Pulitzer prize- 
winning journalist. Now [hat you 
have fame far beyond your wild- 
est dreams, what can you possi- 
bly do to top it? That was the sce- 
nario psychiatrist Steven Berglas 
posed to Janel Bladow (Mind, 
page 26}'to demonstrate the pres- 
sure caused by the success syn- 
drome. "In my work I hear stories 
of celebrities 'crashing and burn- 
ing' all the lime," says Bladow, fea- 
tures editor ai The Star. "If I 
should get that Pulitzer, though, 
I hope I'm grounded enough with 
family and friends to live through 
it." Bladow has written for Work- 
ing Woman and Mademoiselle 
and Is working on a novel. 

Pal Janowski (Space, page 22) 
has poked her head above the 
clouds, examining what's going 
on in the ionosphere, the 1,000- 
kilometer-thick layer above our at- 
mosphere. "Our atmosphere is on- 
ly ten kilometers thick," says 
Janowski. "Down here we get 
snow flurries; up there it's electron 
flurries." As one researcher told 
her, "It's more exciting and dra- 
matic than this wimpy ten-kilome- 
ter thing." Janowski is a writer at 
the Association of Science/Tech- 
nology Centers. Her articles 
have appeared in Science. 

Writer Steven Scott Smith 
(Earth, page 30) has an affinity 
with "frozen moments in time." 
Smith contributed to Omni's Arc- 
tic story ("Lost Horizons," Septem- 
ber 1990), has written a play 
called Black Ice, and is working 
on another titled Antarctica. DO 



CDnnnnuRJiCATionjs 



READERS' WRITES: 

Of celestial reasoning, sacred groves, 

and queens of the Nile 



Look Up in the Sky! It's a... 

On behalf of like-minded readers I 

congratulate your December 1990 is- 
sue. You are ;hc first credible general- 
inieresl magazine to present the issue 
of UFOs without condescension. In the- 
late Seventies I interviewed Allen Hy- 
nek, the first scientist to publicly take 
UFOs seriously. As a result, he faced 
the ridicule of the scientific community 
for the rest of his life — a heavy price in- 
deed. In 1600 Giordano Bruno, a Do- 
minican monk, was burned at the 
stake for suggesting thai life may exist 
elsewhere in (he universe. In 1978 Hy- 
nek was merely dismissed as a fool. 
Now, a! last, as we approach the twenty- 
first century we reluctantly realize that 
we may hot be alone in this vast uni- 
verse. What blockheads we are. 

Larry Ponl 
Ogden Dunes, IN 

Let me get this straight. A highly intelli- 
gent race of beings sends an unimag- 
inably advanced spacecraft across lighl- 
years of space, Through pilot error or 
.catastrophic equipment failure, the 
darn thing crashes. You listed five con- 
vincing cases of crashed landings 
("Alien Almanac"). You'd think that af- 
ter the first one, the extraterrestrials 
would issue a memo; "Watch out for 
Earth; it's a tricky one." Or do we live 
on the galactic triangle? 

Eric Bickermoks 
Norwood, MA 

Writer Patrick Huyghe explains part o1 
the government cover-up of UFO re- 
ports by revealing how our government 
cracks foreign codes. But he seems 
luctant to report on secret aircraft test- 
ing that we can assume resulted 
crashes. The willingness of any govern- 
ment to credit such occurrences to 
UFOs is quite normal. Their covering up 
may be military secrets, not UFOs. 

Frank G. Pollard 
Farmington Hills, Ml 

Thomas R. McDonough [Stars, Decem- 
ber 1990] should have been more thor- 
ough in his analysis as to why E.T has 
not yet phoned Earth. He offers two very 
plausible hypotheses, but his notion of 



"induced permanent ecstasy" is a bit 
out of this world. I'm not a skeptic. The 
odds against our tiny planet being 
alone in this immense galaxy are astro- 
nomical. McDonough should have tak- 
en more time in the conceptualization 
of his ideas and perhaps he would 
have thought of a few more that are 
more believable. For those aliens living 
in their sheltered ecstasies, stay home 
and don't call us. We'll call you. 

Jeffrey A. Rhind 
Scituate, MA 

From the Redwood Forest... 

In the article about Northern California's 

coastal redwoods [Continuum, Decem- 
ber 1990] you printed a picture of a se- 
quoia — and the caption even calls it a 
sequoia. Although coastal redwoods 
are technically Saquois sempervirens, 
they are commonly called redwoods or 
coastal redwoods. We have an identity 
crisis already because many people 
think our trees are the same as the red- 
woods. All the residents of Sequoia Na- 
tional Park would be grateful if you. 
could clear up the misunderslandhg. 
Theresa Walters 
Sequoia National Park, CA 

Relying on clones to repopulste North- 
ern Cal'-ornia's diminishing redwood for- 
ests is suicide. All it takes is a single 
virus or bug to defeat one clone, and 
it will defeat all clones! With the envi- 
ronmental mistakes we've already 
made, it's stupid to add another bullet 
to this game of Russian roulette. 

Scott Tokar 
Tustin, CA 

Here's to You, Mrs. Ramses 
An incorrect statement was credited to 
Farouk e!-Baz [Interview, December 
1990]. Ramses II was not married to Ne- 
fertiti. Although they were both from the 
New Kingdom. Period, Ramses ruled in 
the nineteenth dynasty; Nefertiti was the 
wife of Amenoohis IV (Ai<honaton) in the 
eighteenth dynasty. The first wife of Ram- 
ses II was Nefertari, for whom he built 
the minor temple next to his great tem- 
ple at Abu Simbel. 

Sylvia McDonald Bowman 
Henderson, NVDQ 



FAR-OUT FORECAST: 

Communications and radar will benefit from space-based 

sensors able to warn of ionospheric changes 



Partly cloudy, chance ol 
showers. The daily weath- 
er reports help us 
cide what to wear and what to car- 
ry — an umbrella or sunglasses. 
Soon, however, we'll watch re- 
ports on space weather just as ea- 
Stormy weather: gerly to see where to tune in ow 
Increases communications systems: Solar 
in ultraviolet flare sparks severe storm in the 
radiation ionosphere; switch to alternate 
trigger a build- satellite link. 

up of The U.S. Navy and Air Force 
electrons in the are working on space-based sys- 



ture over a broad geographic loca- 
tion. When used together, the two 
systems will generate a three- 
dimensional view. 

About 60 to 1,000 kilometers 
above the earth's surface, the ion- 
osphere experiences weather 
changes just like our atmosphere. 
However, violent "storms" in the 
ionosphere do a different type of 
damage: They can knock out com- 
munications satellites, disrupt ra- 
dio transmissions, and even crip- 
ple the military's over-the-horizon 




communica- 

advanced radar 
systems. 



terns to monitor the weather in the 
ionosphere, the layer of the 
earth's atmosphere that affects sat- 
ellite communications. Tuned to 
ultraviolet and infrared wave- 
lengths and clamped to the under- 
sides of weather satellites, optical 
sensors will orbit the earth above 
the ionosphere. The Navy's sys- 
tem, scheduled for tests in 1992, 
will vertically scan the atmosphere 
with spectrographs, spectrome- 
ters, and photometers tq. create 
a cross section ot the ionosphere. 
The Air Force's instruments will 
look straight down to give a pic-, 



radar.-.Such storms otten travel 
from the earth's poles toward the 
equator, but surprises can hap- 
pen. For example, a solar flare 
blocked communication with Air 
Force One in 1984. 

The ionosphere is created by 
high-energy rays of ultraviolet ra- 
diation Irom the sun that disrupt 
the energy balance holding togeth- 
er molecules of oxygen and oth- 
er atmospheric gases. The radia- 
tion knocks electrons away from 
the protons and neutrons that 
make up the dense nuclei of the 
gas aioms. The electrons leave be- 



hind ions. These separated elec- 
trons and positively charged ions 
make up the ionosphere. The thick- 
ness of the ionosphere and the 
number of free electrons vary as 
the sun emits different amounts of 
ultraviolet radiation during its 27- 
day rotations. The density of elec- 
trons can become so great that 
satellite signals cannot penetrate 
'■he ionosphere. 

The military's optical sensors 
will pick up the radiant energy 
(photons scattered by the ions), 
calculating the number of positive 
ions and thus the number of free 
electrons. Notified when electrons 
begin building up in a certain ar- 
ea of the ionosphere, those using 
a satellite link can switch to a sat- 
ellite in an unaffected part of the 
sky or to ground-based commu- 
nications facilities. 

Rather than passing through 
the ionosphere, as satellite sig- 
nals do, the signals used in over- 
the-horizon radar are reflected by 
the ionosphere — twice, in fact, as 
they bounce off the ionosphere to 
the radar's target, reflect once 
again off the ionosphere, and are 
finally captured by a radar 
ground station. The angle of re- 
flection, determined by the num- 
berof free, electrons in the ionos- 
phere, must be known in order to 
pinpoint the target's location. 
"That's the rub," says Robert 
Meier, head of the Upper Atmos- 
pheric Physics Branch of the Na- 
val Research Laboratory in Wash- 
ington, DC. "You have to know 
what the ionosphere is doing way 
out there," 

Systems that help warn of the 
arrival of ionospheric storms are 
already in place. For example, af- 
ter a solar flare, alerts are sent to 
defense and civilian communica- 
tions systems. 

But the ionosphere's reactions 
to solar flares can vary widely 
from day to day. With the space- 
based sensors, we'll be able to 
keep up with them. 

—Pat Janowski DO 



nniruD 



THE SUCCESS SYNDROME: 

Its victims suffer from the three A's: aloneness, 
adventure seeking, and adultery 



Consequences 
of success 
create stresses, 
expectations, 
and demands, pre- 
cipitating a 
range of psycholog- 
ical disorders 
that would not other- 



He's worth millions. He 
snaps his Midas fingers 
and people jump, He 
has a trophy wife or mistresses. 
Or both. Yet just when he seems 
to have it all, the castle comes 
crashing down and everything he 
[ouches turns to garbage. 

He's a victim of the success syn- 
drome, says Steven Berglas, an 
instructor in the department of 
psychiatry at Harvard Medical 
School and founder of the Exec- 
utive Stress Clinic in Boston. 
These days the victim could be 
Donald Trump, Michael Milken, 
Ivan Boesky, or Marion Barry, to 
name afew. In 1986 Berglas pre- 
sented his theory in The Success 
Syndrome: Hitting Bottom When 
You Reach the Top. The book 
was based on a study originally 
conducted in 1978 at Duke Uni- 
versity that found that three quar- 




ters of males who succeeded — 
but didn't feel they earned their 
success— abused alcohol. A num- 
ber of studies since have con- 
firmed the results: If a person 
doesn't feel his actions awarded 
him success, he often exhibits self- 
destructive behavior. 

Little did Berglas know that be- 
fore the decade was out, he'd 
have so many highly visible exam- 
ples to prove him right. "I've 
since found it's more a pattern of 
success than any inherent char- 
acter flaw in the individual prior to 
becoming successful." Berglas 
says Americans define success 
basically as ranking and rewards: 
an income of six figures or more; 
prominence in a corporation or or- 
ganization, and in the community. 
"Pete Rose appears to be a clas- 
sic victim," he says. "Rose beat 
[Ty] Cobb's record and became 
the greatest baseball player alive. 
Going out on the ball field — or con- 
tinuing writing or building a busi- 
ness — you have a chance to re- 
prove competency. Rose lost 
that capacity when he stopped 
playing ball. But gambling allows 
you the belief, I'm the greatest. I 
can understand the game, there- 
fore I can predict the future." 

The victim risks money he 
doesn't have to stimulate his adren- 
aline, Berglas adds. "Trump's art 
of the deal is just what Rose was 
doing: gambling. So did Milken. 
You leverage yourself to the 
"', take chances, and lose 
perspective." These men 
demonstrate the need 
for adventure — in- 
cluding secret hand- 
shakes and codes 
for their deals. 

They are soli- 
tary operators. 
Rose had a group 
of sycophants, but 
ie never felt he could 
ust people. Milken 
made people adore him 
at a distance; he was a 
Pied Piper. He represents 



the adulterous aspects — without 
the need to go to bed. Trump ob- 
viously goes to bed. Many of 
these men demonstrate promiscu- 
ity," Berglas concludes. 

After someone reaches the 
heights, his or her successes of- 
ten become passive ones. "All Milk- 
en had to do was sit back and 
watch his investments make mon- 
ey. Trump said, 'I'm so good, bank- 
ers come and ask me if I want to 
borrow money.' When you've 
reached a certain level of power, 
things come to you. You don't 
have to be good anymore." The 
successful become subordinate 
to their success. 

The syndrome can befall any 
successful person. Politicians are 
notorious, says Berglas. "Gary 
Hart became so cocksure he 
even dared the press to follow 
him. For Marion Barry, buying 
drugs became a thrill. These 
things let you know you can beat 
the system: It's not what I am out- 
side, but inside." 

Berglas's studies indicate that 
up to 20 percent of all successful 
men fall victim to the syndrome. 
He predicts the percentage for chil- 
dren of successful or wealthy par- 
ents is even greater. Success 
comes to them because of their 
name and wealth. 

Marriages and love relation- 
ships are important in preventing 
the syndrome, Berglas says. "Sec- 
ond to that is an affiliation to a 
group — of any stripe." Sam Wal- 
ton, who believes wealth should 
benefit family, workers, and the 
community, is someone who's es- 
caped the success syndrome. 

The success syndrome won't 
vanish. "Any young individual 
with an affluent life-style who 
doesn't earn his success on his 
own efforts will suffer," Berglas 
warns. "The syndrome is like 
AIDS; it's a virus, a disease. Just 
because you practice safe sex 
doesn't mean it goes away; 
there's just a little less of it," 

— Janel BladowDO 



EARTH 



ICE CHEST: 

Can Greenland's treasure trove of frozen rain 

reveal the story of Earth's climate? 



Just the tip 
of the 
Iceberg: For 
the very 
first time re- 
searchers 
may be able to 
trace the 
earth's climate 
back 200,000 



It sounds like part H. G. Wells's 
The Time Machine, part Jules 
Verne's Journey to the Center 
of the Earth, and part Steven 
Spielberg's Back to the Future. 
But the key to the future may be 
buried in the past — in layers of ice 
that comprise a frozen record of 
the earth's atmosphere. 

That's what scientists with the 
Greenland Ice Sheet Project 
(GISP) have discovered since 
they began analyzing Green- 
land's ice samples. The first 
GISP, carried out in the Seventies 
and Eighties, produced samples 
100,000 years old. During GISP 
II, a five-year, $20 million project 
scheduled to break ground this 
spring, researchers will dig 3,000 
meters into the ice and turn back 
the climate clock — as far back 
as 200,000 years. Their goal: un- 
derstanding the forces behind 
climatic change. 

Layered like tree rings, the ice 
allows researchers to date the at- 
mosphere. While tree rings show 
changes in precipitation and tem- 
perature, ice core samples go fur- 
ther, reflecting the earth's global 
climate machine, says Paul 



Mayewski, chief scientist for the 
project, which is funded by the Na- 
tional Science Foundation. 

Although technologies like sat- 
ellite photography now map 
ocean currents and other atmos- 
pheric variables, GISP II will help 
scientists interpret changes by pro- 
viding a database of climate his- 
tory. "We know, for instance, that 
the last ice age lasted 100,000 
years and ended about 12,000 
years ago; another long ice age 
ended about 130,000 years ago," 
says Pieter Grootes, a University 
of Washington geologist involved 
with the project. "But the record 
for those periods is poorly de- 
tailed. If we learn about them, we 
may be able to extrapolate those 
cycles in the future." 

Receiving less than three inch- 
es of rain a year, icy regions like 
Greenland and Antarctica are 
deserts. Unlike arid deserts, how- 
ever, the precipitation is frozen 
and preserved, representing, 
Mayewski says, "a phenomenal 
story about to be told," with a rec- 
ord of the atmosphere's chemical 
composition', human activity, and 
other factors in Earth's history. 

In preliminary findings, the 
Greenland ice team reported in- 
triguing atmospheric anom- 
a alies.During1815,forexam- 
ple, temperatures plum- 
I meted and the period 




became known as the "year with- 
out a summer." Contemporary 
paintings show skies with a yel- 
lowish tinge that scientists now be- 
lieve represents a rise in sulfur di- 
oxide and volcanic particles pro- 
duced by the eruption of Tambo- 
ra in Sumbawa, Indonesia. "With 
a preserved 'piece' of precipita- 
tion from that year we can actual- 
ly see the composition of the at- 
mosphere," Mayewski says. 

The progression of industrial pol- 
lution also lies buried in the fro- 
zen fields of the earth's history. 
"We can even detect when the 
United States put the Clean Air 
Act into effect," Mayewski says. 
The breakdown of sulfur dioxide 
(S0 2 ) in the atmosphere pro- 
duces sulfuric acid thai returns 
to the earth as acid rain. Spec- 
imens from the Greenland Ice 
Shelf indicate sulfur dioxide emis- 
sions have decreased. 

GISP II scientists, however, 
will learn about the earth's climate 
well before the Industrial Revolu- 
tion. Housed in geodesic domes 
that resist the accumulation of 
snowdrifts, drills will bore 1 ,500 me- 
ters down to ice layers represent- 
ing the earth's last 10,000 years. 
The next 1,500 meters of ice, 
where the layers are more com- 
pact, will reveal a record of the 
planet's preceding 190,000 
years. The core samples will be 
cut into sections, stored at low tem- 
peratures, and shipped for anal- 
ysis in labs around the world. 

In a similar European venture, 
the Greenland Ice Project (GRIP), 
researchers working just 30 kilome- 
ters away will collaborate with the 
Americans to confirm results. To- 
gether the projects should pro- 
duce a definitive climate record 
of the Northern Hemisphere. But 
Mayewski is already looking to the 
next stop in the frigid journey 
through time: Antarctica. "That's 
where we have the oldest ice," he 
says. "We can go back half a mil- 
lion years, maybe even two." 

—Steven Scott Smith CXI 




coruTifuuunn 

EMERALD GREENS: 

Europe's plant refugees have found an Irish Ellis Island. Plus: 

Billy the Kid's last face-off; British cars sans petrol 



A standard stop for many an 
Irish-American tracing his an- 
cestral roots is the Burren — 
"the world's largest rock gar- 
den," say the brochures — a 
bleak, wind-blasted steppe of 
limestone jutting out of the 
west coasl of Ireland into the 
Atlantic. Visitors slide up in 
their commodious tour buses, 
scamper out among the lunar 
limestone dotted with blue hare- 
bell and bloody cranesbill, 
mountain avens and maiden- 
hair, bee orchids, fly orchids, 
frog orchids, returning to their 
custom coaches eager to quit 
this eerie land for the nearest 
pint o' Guinness. 

Botanists are likely to have 
a very different reaction: The 
list of the Burren's inhabitants 
makes them reel in disbelief. 
Alpine species grow side by 
side with flowers normally 
found in Spain. Arctic flowers 
share the same scant soil 
with Mediterranean ferns; lime- 
loving plants cohabitate with 
those that thrive in acidic 
soils. In fact, more than 75 percent of all plant species 
found in Ireland are native to the 100 stark, ostensibly un- 
inviting square miles of the Burren. 

Why do such seemingly disparate species coexist in 
such close quarters? Theories are nearly as plentiful as 
the specimens themselves. 

Some botanists say seeds were blown here westward 
across the continent, or southward from the Arctic; other 
scientists assert that they were carried here in the fur of 
animals when Ireland was connected by land bridge to 
Europe, or fell here in the droppings of migratory birds; 
or perhaps the seeds were gathered in the south by the 
great glacier and deposited here as the ice sheets re- 
ceded northward. 

David A. T. Harper, senior lecturer in geology at Uni- 
versity College, Galway, has made it his business to dis- 
cover why the area is hospitable to so many species. He 
believes the 1 ,000-meler-deep limestone is the key to the 
Burren's diversity. Composed of calcium carbonate de- 




rived from the heavily com- 
pressed shells of marine organ- 
isms deposited during the Car- 
boniferous Period some 350 
million years ago, limestone ac- 
counts for many of the Bur- 
ren's unique geological fea- 
tures. Because rain easily 
erodes calcium carbonate, 
erosion produced the Burren's 
system of clints (upstanding 
elements) and grykes (depres- 
sions). Alternating bands of 
thick volcanic ash layered up- 
on even thicker bands of lime- 
stone weathered in a stepped 
pattern because limestone 
and volcanic clays erode at 
different rates. 

On top of all this, Harper 
says, the receding glacier at 
the close of the last ice age 
"scoured the Burren, like rub- 
bing a Brillo pad across its sur- 
face." The limestone face ex- 
posed by this geomorphic 
sculpting makes it attractive to 
opportunistic species: It re- 
tains heat, keeping its inhab- 
itants warm through the chilly 
Irish winters; the lime encourages bacteria, which in turn 
provide nutrients; and the calcium carbonate allows for 
only a certain amount of soil to form, ensuring that the 
environment does not become too attractive to weeds and 
grasses, which would otherwise overrun the more deli- 
cate ferns and orchids. 

Harper's own theory regarding the presence of the Al- 
pine spring gentian and the Mediterranean maidenhair 
fern owes as much to geography as it does to geology. 
"Look at a globe," he says, "and you see that Ireland re- 
ally sticks out into the Atlantic; the island is perched at 
the extreme edge of Europe." 

Once the seeds were transported here, the plateaus 
of limestone became the final destination for a polyglot 
colony of European botanical emigrants. Unlike their hu- 
man fellow travelers, the plants could not make the leap 
across the Atlantic to North America, so the ferns and flow- 
ers of Europe gathered and made their melting pot in a 
barren place called the Bun en. —M ELAN IE MENAGH 




coruTinjuunn 




ANOTHER LEGEND 
BYTES THE DUST 

History recounts that 
William H. Bonney— better 
known as Billy the Kid — was 
sho: deac: a: a New Mexico 
ranch in a showdown with 
the law on July 15, 1881. 
And computers have con- 
firmed history. Legend has 
it, "however, that Bonney, 
Ihen twenty- two, escaped 
the sheriff's bullets and fled 
to Texas, where he lived to a 
ripe old age. Further fueling 

34 OMNI 



the rumor, a Texas man who 
died in 1950— Brushy Bill 
Roberts— claimed to be the 
grown-up Kid, even going 
so far as to ask the governor 
of New Mexico to pardon 
him for the murders that 
he had committed as a 
young outlaw. 

Did Billy the Kid really die 
an old man? The claim, 
which periodically surfaces 
in the national media, has 
finally bee'h settled with the 
aid of modern technology. 
Researcher Thomas Kyle of 



SINGLE MEN OUTNUMBER SINGLE WOMEN SIX TO 
FIVE. THE U.S. CENSUS BUREAU ESTIMATES 
THAT THERE ARE 2.3 MILLION MORE UNMARRIED MEN 
IN THEIR TWENTIES THAN WOMEN. 



Los Alamos National Labora- 
tory used a computer to 
compare an authenticated 
tintype photo of the Kid with 
a certified photo of Roberts 
taken late in life. "The 
computer," says Kyle, "can 
reveal more than the human 
eye by compensating for 
differences in the way 
photos were processed, 
correcting errors in focus, 
and removing scratches 
and smudges on historic 
images." The outcome of 
this face-off: Brushy Bill 
Roberts and Billy the Kid 
were two different people. 
"A lot of old men suffer 
from the same kind of 
delusion as Roberts," says 
Kyle. "A fellow in Washing- 
ton, for example, was 
claiming to be Butch 
Cassidy — but once again, 
computer analysis of photos 
tells a different story." 

— Kathleen McAuliffe 

OIL COMING OUT OF 
THE WOODWORK 

Oil crises encourage 
some pretty ingenious ways 
of producing petroleum. 
Now a technique developed 
by a Texaco research team 
in Houston uses common 
chemicals from frees to 
squeeze oil from hard-to- 
reach pockets in the earth. 
Trees reduced to paper 
pulp already yield 40 billion 
pounds of chemical iignins 
a year. Lignins, the stuff that 



makes trees stiff, are used in 
insecticides, cement addi- 
tives, and binders in animal 
feed. Unproductive wells 
are flooded with water to 
drive oil out of hiding before 
adding a lignin-based 
chemical that consolidates 
the petroleum, making it a 
cinch 1o recover. 

Douglas Naae, a re- 
search scientist with Tex- 
aco's exploration and pro- 
duction technology depart- 
ment, says this technique is 
not only far cheaper than 
similar oil-recovery methods 
but also opens up 150 
billion barrels of American 
oil for easy recovery. At 
current rates of consump- 
tion, that's enough for 50 
years. "We know what's left 
in the fields:and we know 
where it is," says Naae. 
"That's what makes this 
approach so intriguing." 

— George Nobbe 




STRESS IS STUPID 

Stress can encourage 

heart disease, spawn ul- 
cers, and snuff sexual 
desire. Now it appears that 
it can also make you stupid. 

When humans face life- 
threatening situations, Stan- 
ford neuroscientist Robert 
M. Sapolsky points out, 
glands respond by pumping 
adrenaline and Cortisol into 
the body to speed heart 
rates. This worked fine for 
primitive humans facing a 
saber-toothed tiger attack, 
but today the same reaction 
can be caused by work- or 
home-related stress that has 
nothing to do with survival. 

Sapolsky found that when 
rats were exposed to 
prolonged slress or were 
constantly injected with 
steroids thai include Corti- 
sol, they lost neurons in the 
hippocampus section of 
their brains. Prolong the 
stress or injection program 
and the rats are unable to 
find food hidden in a maze. 
Human evidence of a similar 
neuron loss is "indirect but 
tentatively scary," says 
Sapolsky.— Billy Allstetter 



CHIMPANZEES HOLD THE 
SPEED RECORD FOR 
THE ANIMAL KINGDOM 
QUICKIES: SEXUAL 
INTERCOURSE IN THREE 
SECONDS. 

AFRICA'S SAHARA DESERT 
COVERS THREE AND 
A HALF MILLION SQUARE 
MILES, 16 TIMES MORE 
AREA THAN FRANCE. 




that it doesn't even register 
on a photograph. That's 
the challenge, that faced 
NASA researcher Mark 
Showalter, He succeeded, 
'however, infinding proof 
of'Saturn's- newest — 



and smallest, with only a 
1 2- mile diameter — moon in 
just 22 of 30,000 photb- 
graphssnapped by ■ 
the Voyager 2 spacecraft 
during its flyby. 

Showalter might have ■ 
missed his prize had it not 
been for the asiuis pre- 
dictions of NASA's ring 
exoe;1-> Je'f C .izzi and Jeff 
Scargle. During the 
rrvd-Eighties, the two : no- 
ticed thai the Encke Gap in- 



Saturn's A ring had a 
scalloped fringe, "This bit 
of evidence suggested 
the presence of a 
shepherding moon." says 
Showalter. 

So far, the new moon 
known only as 1981S13, 
but Showalter has a better- 
name in mind. He has 
suggested that the moon 
Ids called Pan, after the 
Greek god of shepherds.' 
— Tom Dworetzky 



ACCENTS FROM 
THE VOID 

University of Maryland 
School of Medicine neuro- 
physiologist and epilepsy 
expert Dean Tippett was 
surpr sed when a thirty-three- 
year-old stroke patient 
deveoped a strange ac- 
cent. "Instead of 'hill,' he 
sad 'heel.'- used 'dat' for 
'that,' and inserted vowels at 
the end of phrases, saying, 
'How are you today a?'" 
Tippett says. "Although He 



was from Baltimore, the 
oai:snt seemed to speak 
with a Norwegian accent." 

While reviewing the medi- 
cal literature, Tippett came 
up with just 15 other cases 
of "foreign accent syn- 
drome." Sometimes, as in 
the case of the Baltimore 
man, the accent disappears 
after several months. In 
other cases, however, 
patients kept their new 
accents until they died. 

The rare condition follows 
a s.ioder head rauma or a 



vascular accident, but the 
mechanics behind how a 
brain injury produces a 
foreign-sounding accent re- 
mains a scientific riddle. 
Could it be proof of "past 
lives" bleeding into the 
present? Tippett is skepti- 
cal: "The syndrome isn't 
complete unless someone 
listens to the voice and 
interprets it as a particular 
accent. The accents aren't 
necessarily foreign. It's just 
what people think they 
hear." — Sherry Baker 




coruTinjuuRn 



robots, thanks to the 
ground-breaking research 
ot University of New 
Hampshire. (UNH) profes- 
sor Tom Miller.. "Imagine a 
machine that: improves 'its 
own performance -the more 
it's used, ".'he says. 'That's 
revolutionary." ■ 
' Miller's' team at UNH's- 
Robotics Laboratory has 
already developed a 
"500-pound- robot, arm that 
actually teaches- itself how 
■toper-form tasks'. It 
empioys-a RC-s'ized-'com- . 
puier loaded with. software, 
that's -capable of what is . 
known as adaptive -learn- 
ing. The heart of the ■ 
.system is- a network that '. 



■silo^vs i'u-j ioooI a->r\ to 
overcome a number of key 
problems through hial and 
error. When a certain- 
action is desired in the 
tuiure. the sonware looks- 
to its memory lor a suitable 
response. During the new- 
si cri ■»■■■■ !.y sensors b;iil: into 
the arm. provide feedback 
so that [he program can 
continue to adjust its 
directions, to' the. arm. 

In the near future Miller 
envisions his robots as 
se : f-;.'alibraL-'ng machines 
that. automatically correct., 
their -r stages as they go 
along. In the long terrr., he 
hopes his wof* will lead ;u 
autonomous systems that 
excel in difficult environ- 
ments— -.under water, for 
. example, or in space. 

.—Tom Dwor-elzky 





HOT SPOTS 

What caused record 
high temperatures across 
the United States last year? 
Possible explanations range 
from simple chance to the 
growth of cities and the 
Greenhouse elfeci Rece "if y 
another theory was added 
to the list: Maybe the 
thermometers were just 
plain wrong. 

Residents of Tucson, 
Arizona, first brought up that 
possibility alter they noticed 
something peculiar about 
hie weather last summer: A 
hot spot had developed at 
the local airport. "It 
appeared to be getting 
warmer and warmer out 
there. In the course of the 
year, one third of the 
temperature records were 



broken," says National 
Weather Service surface 
program manager Joe 
Schiesl. "It would be a 
hundred and ten degrees at 
the airport and a hundred 
degrees elsewhere." 

An investigation showed 
thai it was unusually hot at 
the airport due to an 
increase in paved roads that 
reflected heat. Nonetheless, 
a new electronic sensor that 
replaced the traditional 
mercury-and-glass thermom- 
eter was suspect. 

Schiesl admits that while 
the instruments, called 
thermisiors, are accurate to 
within one tenth of a degree 
under laboratory conditions, 
they have problems in real 
weather situations. "We 
have to cover these things 
to protect them from rain, 
spiders, dust, everything out 
there. But sometimes the 
sun shining or wind blowing 
on the boxes produces a 
fluctuation inside the box," 
he says. 

Even so, Schiesl says a 
warming trend is real. "We 
have a network of ten 
thousand people taking 
thermometer readings every 
day across the country," 
he says. "That's where we 
get our climatological 
data, not from the thermis- 
tors. The warming ap- 
pears to be a real trend. It 
can't. be blamed on our 
electronic sensors." 

— Sherry Baker 



IN 1967 SCIENTISTS EXTRACTED 10,000-YEAR-OLD 
SEEDS FROM A FROZEN LEMMING BURROW 
IN THE ARCTIC TUNDRA. FORTY-EIGHT HOURS LATER 
THE SEEDS BEGAN TO GERMINATE. 




conrnruuunn 



MOONSTRUCK 

Iowa State University 
mathematician Alexander 
Abian thinks we should blow 
up the moon. "We have 
been hostage to the same 
orbit for five billion years," 
says Abian. "There is no 
reason to believe that it is an 
optimal one as far as the 



ecology of the planet Earth 
is concerned." 

Abian asserts that by 
altering the gravitational 
parameters governing the 
movement of the' earth, we 
could shift our planet into a 
more desirable orbit, elimi- 
nating scorching summers 
and brutal winters caused 
by the 23' tilt of the earth's 



SUPER TRIKE 

■ ■. 1ft the high-rolling 
Eighties, the Sinclair C5 
looked ratherpatheti.c:' 
Moving at a tepid 15 mph 
and. requiring vigorous 
pedaling to negotiate 
steep hills, the electric- 
powered' tricycie met with 
jeers when unveiled by Sir 
Clive Sinclair in 1984. But 
Ray Harper, who runs a 
bicycle.shpp in Kent, 
England., bought 600 of 
them with an eye toward 
the future. Wow the 
nonpolluting, efficient C5' 
selis-for up to $4,800 and 
e.cdho'my-minded Brits are. 
clamorim for ii. 

Meanwhile Harper and 



his son are ort'a two-man 
crusade to prove the 

potential of electric motor- 
cars; Their updated. C5, 

. four times more powerful 
than trie-original, ac- ■ 
celerates- from to 60"rnprv 
in eight seconds. "That 
compares favorably with 
the: best sports. cars," says 
Ray Harper. They've bro- 
ken the 75 mph barrier with 
a C5 and are now at work 
or r-i 'l-ow electric vehde 
designed to- travel at a -. 
record-breaking 200 mph. 

■ Encouraged, the Hampers 
plan a line of 40 mph 
"commuting cars" design-. 

' ed to ease urban pollution. 
and congestion... • 

—Curt Wohieber 





axis. The easiest way to do 

this is by manipulating 
the moon in one of five 
ways: reducing its mass; 
splitting it into two or more 
pieces; altering its orbit; 
getting rid of the moon 
altogether; or landing part or 
all of the moon on the 
earth, probably the Pacific 
Ocean near Antarctica. 
The hardest part, the 
mathematician concedes, 
may be persuading a 
skeptical world to sacrifice 
the moon and tamper 
with the earth's climate. 
"We're used to our 
orbit, like an old pair of 
shoes," he says. 
"Many people are reluctant 
to change their shoes." 

—Curt Wohleber 

UNIVERSAL 
SOLVENT 

Bernard Yurke, a physi- 
cist at AT&T Bell Labs, 
builds universes, fashioning 
a model of the cosmos in a 
miniature crystal. 

Yurke's universe, about 
one eighth of an inch thick 
and the size of a pancake, is 
filled with the same liquid 
crystal used to display 
numbers and letters in 
pocket calculators. When 
pressed, the crystal exhibits 
cracks and imperfections 



ON A CLEAR, MOONLESS 
NIGHT AND WHEN 
THERE ARE NO OBSTRUC- 
TIONS, THE HUMAN 
EYE CAN SEE THE LIGHT 
OF A SINGLE MATCH 
UP TO 50 MILES AWAY, 

MARIE CURIE, CO- 
DISCOVERER OF RADIUM, 
WAS THE FIRST PER- 
SON KNOWN TO HAVE 
DIED OF RADIATION 
POISONING- UNTIL HER 
DEATH SCIENTISTS 
DIDN'T KNOW RADIA- 
TION'S DANGERS. 



that may be simile" :o events 
thought to have taken place 
■moments after the Big Bang. 
Liquid crystal was chosen 
as a medium, says Yurke, 
because the mathematical 
equations that describe 
its transition from' a uniform 
solid to a cracked state 
are similar to some equa- 
tions for events after the Big 
Bang. "The equations theo- 
reticians deal with are so 
complex, it's nice to have a 
simple physical system to try 
ideas out on," says Yurke. 
— Steve Madis 




coruTiajuunn 




Rock and roll wi'J never o*e nsr,acia:iy won it measurably 
boosts productivity in the workplace. 



THE MATHEMATICAL 

ADVANTAGE 

OF ROCK AND ROLL 

To play music or not to 

play music: That is the 
question office, warehouse, 
and retail managers have 
asked for years. Now new 
research from Florida State 
University in Tallahassee 
says that even if employees 
don't like the background 
music, it may still increase 
worker productivity. 

As with previous research 
showing that supermarket 
shoppers buy more goods 
when the music is slow and 
that restaurant diners eat to 
the beat, instructors Sherry 
Moss and Connie Mayfield 
found that when they played 
fast music, their student 
volunteers correctly calculat- 
ed 33 percent more math 
problems than when they 
played slow. music. In fact, 
silence yielded a better 
response than slow music— 
15.1 correct answers for slow 

40 OMNI 



music compared with 180 
for no music. 

"The slow music had a 
calming, relaxing effect, 
making the individual more 
laid-back and far less 
hurried," says Moss. "The 
heartbeat music seemed to 
lull them, while the driving 
beat of fast music disrupted 
their equilibrium and hurried 
them up." — Vincent Bozzi 



THE ENERGY IN TEN 
MINUTES OF ONE 
HURRICANE IS EQUAL ' 
TO THAT OF ALL 
THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS 
IN THE WORLD. 

AN ATOM IS ONE 
MILLION TIMES SMALLER 
THAN THE THICKNESS 
OF A HAIR; THE ATOM'S 
NUCLEUS IS 10,000 
TIMES SMALLER THAN THE 
ATOM ITSELF. 



SPERMBU5TERS 

Birth control for men 
may be emerging from the 
da:k aces with a promising 
alternative to condoms and 
vasectomies. According to 
a recent study supervised 
by the World Health 
Organization (WHO), inject- 
ing men with a synthetic 
hormone may be a more 
effective means of birth 
control than female con- 
traceptive pills. 

The hormone, testoster- 
one enanthate, works Hke 
the Pill: It stops sperm 
production by fooling the 
body into thinking it has 
more than enough. Seventy 



percent of the 225 men 
reserving weekly injections 
became completely sperm- 
less within six months; after 
12 months with no other 
form of contraception, only 
one of the 157 supposedly 
spermless couples con- 
ceived a child. 

Some minor side effects 
such as acne and weight 
gain appeared in some test 
subjects but were not 
considered dangerous. 
WHO is now developing a 
form of the drug that would 
require injections only once 
every three months. They 
hope it will be available 
within five years. 

—Billy A 




< predict h 

■length of 

our lifeline? The resound-- 

i of [he s-c erni'ii 

/'has' always. ." 

:' a 'study "by ■. 




popular n 



joke;" N'e 
the lifelines of 100 ■ 
corpses ; ' T and 16 and 
behold, -the length of the 
line did. indeed correlate ' 
with life span. 

His finding nofwithstand 
ing, IMewrickis still far ■ 
from convinced Ihatthe.: : ' 
futurecan be read in.-our 
palms. "The most likely 
.explanation for the d.ata is 
that- aging causes. a . " 
change- in thefength oftrre 
line— in other words, .. 
the hands grow more- 
wrinkly as we get older," 
he says. Anyone con- 
cerned, a bout- length of life 
would-be- better off 
"examining their life-style, 





A new generation of hyperinstruments 

will produce unique new sounds, 

play unerringly by themselves, and take us 

BACH TO THE FUTURE 



BBllBil 



and-a-half-minute scene: "Mini appears to be sculpting 
PHOTOGRAPHS BY PETER MENZEL 




selling ofl musical structures 
with the flick of his hand— he 
seems to be playing the orches- 
tra of the future." 

So much for the script. Before 
Machover could make his en- 
trance, the percussion instru- 
ment began ringing out notes no 
one had written. 

Oh, shit, Machover thought. 
The instrument's playing itself. 
Computer expert Joseph 
Chung, sitting to Machover's 
left, quickly turned off some cir- 
cuits. The phantom music 
stopped before anyone in the au- 
dience of 1 ,500 noticed. Chung 
later traced the problem to a 



glass globe: High vollage inside 
the ball had sent signals to the 
instrument — a rare glitch that un- 
derscored the potential for mag- 
ic in the music of the future. 

Today, at MIT's Media Lab, 
Machover and Chung are de- 
signing instruments that will do 
what the electronic drum only 
seemed to do: artificially think 
and act like a veteran musician 
The new instruments, dubbed 
hyperinstruments, are essential- 
ly collections of electronic com- 
ponents orchestrated to work 
with a central computer or two. 

Typically hyperinstruments 
don't play a note until they're 



plugged in and attached to 
speakers. Then they hold a con- 
siderable edge over most piec- 
es in today's ensembles. Using 
a single hyperinstrument, Ma- 
chover can compose, conduct, 
perform, or make new instru- 
ment sounds, all at the very 
same time. 

The versatile new instruments 
are helping Machover and 
Chung take musical risks. Al- 
ready the musical innovators are 
creating sounds that no one has 
ever heard and presenting 
them to potentially stuffy inter- 
national audiences. And 
they're teaching such estab- 



spawned is one of a few dozen 
facilities around the country 
where serious composers are 
playing computer and piano key- 
boards, side by side. What 
is more, the labs technology is 
mature enough to.allow listeners 
today to hear and see proto- ' 
types for the smart instruments 
of 2010. 

By then, predicts Max Math- 
hypermusic designer and 
professor emeritus of music at 
Stanford University, "almost all 
music will be made electroni- 
cally, by digital circuits." The 
new instruments will never go 
out of tune, adds Mathews, a for- 
mer Bell Labs engineer and pi- 
oneer in computer music. 
They'll unerringly produce the 
right notes in the right rhythm, 
"so musicians will devote less 
time to these technical details 
and more time to getting out pre- 



John Rahn, professor of music 
at the University of Washington 
in Seattle. Simply by talking to 
a voice-sensitive computer, mu- 
sicians will be able to choose 
the orchestra size and sound 
that best matches what the com- 
poser is writing. And if none of 
the options work, the music ma- 
chinery of 2010 will take orders 
for entirely new sounds that will 
exist largely in digital codes. 

Machover has already given 
the downbeat to some of those 
instruments at the Media Lab, 
where he is a professor and di- 
rector of the Experimental Me- 
dia Facility. In a fourth-floor stu- 
dio on the MIT campus, he 
strikes low C on a newfangled 
88-key electronic keyboard 
known as the Kurzweil Midi- 
board, named for its inventor. 
When a musician plays the Mi- 
diboard, there is at first no 



Composer 

and hyperinstrument 

designer 

Tod Machover, 

top left and 

right, conducts a 




lished performers as cellist Yo- 
Yo Ma to play the new instru- 
ments as well. 

Even music critics are ap- 
plauding the new notes. After a 
controversial opening of VALIS 
in Paris in 1987, Machover is 
now enjoying a crescendo of ac- 
claim. "One of the brightest and 
most intelligent of new American 
operas," writes a New Yorker crit- 
ic. And a New York Times review- 
er predicts, "By the year 2000, 
VALIS w\\\ probably be seen as 
the first populist, rock-influ- 
enced, computer-driven opera." 

The lab in Cambridge, Mas- 
sachusetts, where VALIS was 



cise kinds of sounds and phras- 
ing and musical ideas." In fact, 
Mathews predicts, the hyperin- 
strument of the future will be so 
versatile that it will be capable 
of simulating virtually any musi- 
cal arrangement or style. Its 
range should include anything 
from whole classical orchestras 
to rock groups to a single trom- 
bone; every user will be able to 
program his hyperinstrument for 
jazz sax, rap songs, or Beetho- 
ven's Ninth. 

Within a decade, future auto- 
mated orchestras will offer a 
menu of interpretations to a com- 
poser or conductor, predicts 



sound; instead the Midiboard 
sends siient signals to a Macin- 
tosh computer. 

In the windowlBss, dimly lit 
room, the Mac processes the sig- 
nals, feeding them to an array 
of synthesizers — an electronic 
drum machine and other piec- 
es of hardware that together are 
responsible for most of the siz- 
zle, thump, brass, and plunk of 
a full orchestra. The silent elec- 
tronic pulses from the synthesiz- 
ers race on to two mixers that 
control the blend from the elec- 
tronic ensemble. Slider switch- 
es on the mixers can bring up 
the vibraphone, say, or damp- 



magicalstream 

of original computer 

music at 

the Massachusetts 

Institute 

of Technology. 



Hyper instrument 
designer 
Max Mai haws 
(at right) is 
shown conducting his 
computer 
orchestra with a 
radio wand. 
Since the new instru- 
ments will 
unerringly produce 
the right 
notes in the right 
rhylhm, 
Mathews says 
musicians 
will be able to pay 
more attention 
lo musical ideas. 




en the drums, or crank all the mu- 
sic up to fortissimo, in a final 
step, speakers convert the elec- 
tronic output from the mixers to 
rich sound that fills the room. 

To start the process, Chung 
sits down at the Mac and types 
a few commands about how the 
system as a whole should re- 
spond when someone hits low 
C on the Midiboard. For this dem- 
onstration, low C is a trigger: Play- 
ing the single C sets off an ar- 
peggio, a catchy succession of 
about 16 notes, starting with C, 
that sound like the bass line for 
a far-out rock song. 

Machover starts hitting C's all 
over the Midiboard. The notes 
he plays produce volleys of ar- 
peggios, high and low. supplied 
by computer, trom a speaker 
across the room. The stream of 
notes speeds up the faster he 
plays the keys until the tempo is 
almost inhuman. The computer, 
supplies the velocity, letting Ma- 
chover concentrate on other 
parts of the music; he controls 



loudness and softness, for in- 
stance, by altering the pressure 
he puts on the keys. 

The real virtuosity of the hy- 
perinstrument appears in anoth- 
er demonstration in which an 
amateur musician takes over the 
keyboard to try some of the 
chords from "Suffering Song," 
a haunting, gentle section from 
VALIS. The chords are simple 
enough for a sixth-grade piano- 
lesson dropout to read from 
sheet music. Most of the 
chords at the beginning of the 
piece have just three or four 
notes, not much trickier than 
"Chopsticks." But when they're 
played on the keyboard, the sys- 
tem produces a silent bolt of light- 
ning-fast computation and anal- 
ysis. And — like the strange ball 
of Mini's performance — the instru- 
ment itself becomes a lifelike ex- 
tension of the performer, 

As soon as the first chord 
from "Suffering Song" is struck, 
the- computer identifies the 
notes and silently searches 



through all of the music Ma- 
chover wrote for the opera. It's 
looking for the location in the 
composition where the chord ap- 
pears. Once it finds the place, 
the computer checks out its in- 
structions about what it's sup- 
posed to do with the chord. In 
this case, the Mac has been pro- 
grammed to splinter the chord 
into a pattern of separate notes 
in a tricky rhythm, set by Ma- 
chover as composer. 

The system makes it impos- 
sible to play a note that isn't in 
rhythm. In fact, to an amateur, 
it seems to make performing a 
little too easy. The notes come 
so fast, with so little effort, that 
at first players are likely to think 
they're in Machover's Sorcerer's 
Apprentice nightmare: The in- 
strument's playing itself. 

"A lot of people say, 'Oh, 
yeah, this is absolute bullshit,'" 
Chung acknowledges. "They 
argue that all we're doing is 
taking the musicianship out of 
playing music, and making 
these toys so that anyone could 
produce music. 

"They're wrong," Chung 
says. "That's certainly not what 
we're trying to do." Instead, Ma- 
chover says, the whole point of 
all the technology of the future 
"will be to sensitively enhance 
and expand the expressive pow- 
er" of individual players. 

As Machover points out, the 
new instruments will enable hu- 
man users to concentrate on 
whatever aspects of musical cre- 
ativity they choose. If the com- 
poser wishes to alter the nature, 
or timbre, of notes— for in- 
stance, whether they should 
sound like piano notes or vibra- 
phone notes — she can focus on 
just that aspect while the digital 
system takes care of speed, 
rhythm, melody, and everything 
else, "I ask my computers to do 
only the things I don't want to 
do," says Max Mathews. "Any- 
thing that I enjoy doing or wish 
to express myself with, I do my- 
self and don't program that into 
the computer." 

This approach, Chung 
notes, proved especially fruitful 
during work on VALIS. "Once 
we took out the dimension of 
rhythm — once it no longer mat- 
tered when you played things — 
all of a sudden your musical 
mind was much more free to 
think of other things." 

The "other things" are appar- 



ent in the CD recording of VAL- 
IS (from Bridge Records, New 
York). As played by a keyboard 
pro, the notes from the opening 
of "Suffering Song" seem to be 
coming from hybrid instruments, 
exotic and changing combina- 
tions of marimba, guitar, xylo- 
phone, and bell. The reason is 
that the computer program al- 
lowed pianist Emma Stephen- 
son to virtually change instru- 
ments on the spot by pressing 
harder or softer on the keys. Nor- 
mal pressure on the keys pro- 
duces the sound characteristic 
of a vibraphone. More pressure 
creaies [he timbre of a bell, turn- 
ing the keyboard into a percus- 
sion instrument for a note or two. 
Like pianist Stephenson, drum- 
mer Daniel Ciampolini gets back- 
up from the computer, too. The 
Mac keeps metronome -perfect 
time while he produces different 
timbres by hitting rectangular rub- 
ber pads arranged to look like 
oversized piano keys on a wide 
board. The sounds, all electron- 
ic illusions, range from the tim- 
bre of bongos to wood blocks 
to strings. 



Electronic illusions are flowing 
from another hypermusic tech- 
nology recently developed by 
Machover at the Media Lab as 
well. In this innovation, musi- 
cians enter a kind of marriage 
through what the researchers 
call a "double instrument." 

Playing a duet, one partner 
produces pitches — musical fre- 
quencies or tones — with a key- 
board. These chords and mel- 
odies are not broadcast 
through speakers, however; in- 
stead, they travel silently to a sec- 
ond instrument — usually a per- 
cussion device like the one 
used by drummer Ciampolini. 
Nobody hears the melody from 
the first device, the keyboard, 
until the percussionist strikes 
the pads, adding rhythm and 
timbre. Only then does the mu- 
sical combination from the two 
partners go on to a synthesizer 
and come out of the speakers 
as music. 

Machover has already begun 
using another piece of futuristic 
musical technology as well — a 
$20,000 metal glove that mag- 
netically tracks the position of ev- 



ery joint in the hand that wears 
it. Wires trail away from the 
hand like exposed nerves lead- 
ing to an IBM-compatible com- 
puter. The IBM then sends infor- 
mation on the finger positions to 
an Apple Macintosh. The Apple 
interprets the movements, con- 
trolling the sound that ultimate- 
ly emerges from synthesizers. 
With subtle finger waving, Ma- 
chover can alter the instruments' 
volume levels and frequencies 
and even create the illusion of 
musical "panning," in which 
sound seems to travel around 
the room. 

Double instruments and 
glove conducting can be heard 
on Machover's latest CD record- 
ing, Flora, from Bridge Records. 
And the MIT composer says 
that these hyperinstruments 
may lead to others, musical 
tools so sophisticated they will 
make Mini's glass globe look 
like something from -an old 
Frankenstein movie. 

While Machover today plays 
music with the help of a glove, 
for instance, hypermusicians of 

CONTINUED ON PAGE 94 



With subtle 

finger 

waving, Machover 

can create 

the illusion of 

panning, 

in which music 

seems to 

travel around the 

room. 



RESERVE OFFICERS' TRAINING CORPS 




ARTICLE 

In the continuing quest for 

artificial intelligence, 

researchers around the world 

believe that a little child, 

or even a lower-order life form, 

will lead the way to a 

new breed of robot workers 

and warriors 

BY TOM DWORETZKY 



Mech Animals 



The little three-wheeled robot is 
the size of a cigar box. It has on- 
ly two missions in life. When it 
hears noise, it hides in a corner 
of the room. When all is quiet, it 
scampers around looking for 
light, then races to the source. It 



.--■ :"■..""" 





may sound pretty mundane, but 
this sound-aversive, light-attract- 
ed creature represents the cut- 
ting edge of artificial intelligence. 
In the near term, this little robot 
may form the basis of a vacuum 
cleaner that stays out of the way 
and works automatically only 
when no one is in the room. In the 
long term, it could lead to ro- 
workers that build cities, 
wars, or install scien- 
tific monitoring equip- 
ment in space. 

When you think 
about artificial intelli- 
gence, or Al, what 
oops to mind is usu- 
ally some Hal-like 
omniscsent device 
capable of beat- 
ing chess mas- 
ters at their own 
game, provide in- 
sight into the most 
subtle bits of sci- 
ence or history, 
write poetry or tell 
jokes, and, suitably 
equipped with the right 
end-effectors (arms and 
such), fix a watch or cook 
a souffle — a device that 
can think, create, and even 
jl In other words, a perfect imi- 
tation of a human being. 

Unfortunately, real Al efforts 
have fallen short of these lofty 
goals. The reason, many experts 
now say, is that in the race to cre- 
ate higher life forms, Al research- 
ers have lost sight of the basics. 
At a recent powwow in Paris, in 



fact, the critics declared that in- 
stead of tackling the highest lev- 
els of human mentation, Alers 
should be examining fundamen- 
tal questions of perception, learn- 
ing, and adaptation. Scientists at 
the meeting, the International Con- 
ference on the Simulation of Adap- 
tive Behavior, even had a name 
for the lower Al creatures they 
hope to build — animals, tiny arti- 
ficial animals that will scamper 
across laboratory floors or com- 
puter screens. According to re- 
searchers, they will study these 
frisky critters in their "natural hab- 
itats," much the same way an en- 
tomologist, biologist, or psychol- 
ogist might study an animal or hu- 
man being. As Al experts come 
to understand these artificial ani- 
mals, they will literally help them 
to evolve into more sophisticated 
forms. The result, says Stewart 
Wilson, the scientist at the 
Rowland Institute for Science in 
Cambridge, Massachusetts, who 
coined the term animat, will be tru- 
ly reactive creatures far more in- 
telligent than any Al systems 
that have come before. 

The idea for the animat actu- 
ally dates back to 1950, when the 
legendary Alan Turing laid out 
two possible approaches to ma- 
chine-based intelligence. In one 
approach, Turing suggested pro- 
viding machines with the best 
sense organs that money could 
buy, then literally teaching them 
to understand and even speak 
English. "This process," Wilson 
says, "follows the normal teach- 
ing of a child," 

In the early years, both ap- 
proaches competed for the bright- 



est minds and the biggest fund- 
ing. But by the Sixties, research- 
ers modeling specific human abil- 
ities had won out over attempts 
to understand natural intelligence 
at a more primitive level. 

During the Seventies, however, 
Al efforts hit the wall: A lot of mon- 
ey had gone into the work, but lit- 
tle real-world value had come out, 
The knowledge-based programs, 
although powerfully capable in 
very specific, rigidly controlled 
(and artificial] environments, had 
big problems in the real world. 
Their emphasis on exact reason- 
ing at the expense of perception 
and adaptation made them brit- 
tle and arbitrary. In other words, 
they found it impossible to op- 
erate in domains even slightly dif- 
ferent from the ones for which 
they were programmed, and 
their internal reasoning bore no re- 
lationship to the physical world. 

The animat-ors are now attempt- 
ing to escape the trap of mimick- 
ing high-level mental compe- 
tence by turning to Turing's sec- 
ond suggestion— the child ma- 
chine, situated from the start in a 
real sensory environment and pro- 
grammed to learn through expe- 
rience. Today's animats, whether 
simulated or real, are of course 
closer to Pac-Men, bacteria, or, 
at their most evolved, simpler an- 
imals like ants. The basic strate- 
gy, by definition, is to work up to 
sophisticated intelligence from be- 
low. Toward that end, Wilson 
says, researchers take the holistic 
approach, "The animats, like ani- 
mals, exist in realistic environ- 
ments," he says. "And as they 
evolve, they cope with more and 



more problems presented by the 

natural world." 

To help the critters negotiate 
worldly terrain, animat developers 
like MIT's Rodney Brooks have en- 
dowed them with a number of 
task-specific computerized box- 
es. Each box produces a straight- 
forward behavior, from following 
walls to avoiding collisions to mov- 
ing toward light sources. As 
Brooks's creatures go about 
their business, they seem to be 
planning and learning. But as 
Brooks points out, "You can't 
point to one place in the code — 
any of the specific boxes— and 
say that is where this higher-level 
brain activity takes place. Rath- 
er, the more sophisticated activi- 
ty emerges from the interaction of 
all the simpler parts." 

One of the most sophisticated 
characteristics being program- 
med into animats is the ability to 
evolve. Federico Cecconi and 
Domenico Parisi of the Institute of 
Psychology in Rome, for in- 
stance, have created a comput- 
er simulation based on two 
types of simple organisms — one 
that can grasp an object only at 
a precise reaching distance, and 
a second that can move to ap- 
proach an object and extend its 
arm to grab it. When the simula- 
tion starts, the population con- 
tains individuals with randomly 
different levels of grasping pro- 
ficiency. After Cecconi and 
Parisi's system has run for one 
generation, only those with the 
best performances are allowed 
to reproduce, making copies of 
themselves for the next gener- 
ation. Each time a copy is made, 




"the comput- 

alters it 

' slightly, mimick- 

Hngthe random ge- 

^"netic mutations of re- 

^al evolution. 

The simulation works like life it- 
self. After evolving for 65 gener- 
ations, the population on-screen 
has an abundance of successful 
graspers. What's more, the abili- 
ty to learn is programmed into 
more offspring as a result. 

To truly perfect the art of grasp- 
ing, of course, animats will need 
to recognize the object to begin 
with. That's why one of the most 
important challenges facing fu- 
ture animat builders will be the de- 
velopment of intelligent sensors 
that recognize patterns and even 
the meaning of events. 

With this goal in mind, Al stu- 
dent Dave Cliff at the University 
of Sussex, England, is develop- 
ing a computer model of the hov- 
er fly's eye. The interesting thing 
about the hover fly, says Cliff, is 
that it focuses on information at 
the center of its visual field, pay- 
ing less attention to images at the 
periphery. Cliff's model further nar- 
rows down visual signals by elim- 
inating redundant information, 
thus revealing underlying pai- 
terns in the images. 

To the hover fly's eye, Cliff 

says, "the world looks like a Mon- 

drian painting. The eye detects on- 

. ly the edges between blocks of 



color. Without all the redundancy, 
you save valuable resources, 
such as processing time, that you 
would otherwise waste on things 
you already Know." 

Cliff's hovermat eye, thus far a 
simulation on a computer 
screen, can see where it's going 
and correct its course itself. 
Once this eye or one like it has 
been built and fit onto an animat, 
it will help the creature navigate 
the world. In fact, because the 
hovermat eye is so intelligent, the 
animat brain processing the visu- 
al input can be a little less smart 

Even with such smart sensors 
however, animats will have trou- 
ble negotiating the world withou 1 
inner motivations of their own 
That, at least, is the view of Pat- 
tie Maes, a researcher at the Al 
laboratory at the University of Brus- 
sels in Belgium and the Al labora- 
tory at MIT. In her new computer 
program, motivated creatures 
have a range of drives from eat- 
ing, drinking, and sleeping'to fight- 
ing, . fleeing, and exploring. 
These drives help them face a 
complex environment that in- 
cludes food, water, obstacles, 
and other animals. According to 
Maes, behavior patterns emerge 
as the computer animals react to 
conflicting drives in the face of var- 
ied and complex situations. 

The animals are motivated to- 
ward any given behavior, Maes 
says, by what is called an activa- 



tion level. For instance, the pres- 
ence of food will activate eating; 
eating, in turn, will activate behav- 
iors such as drinking or sleeping. 
Yet other behaviors may be de- 
activated, or inhibited. For in- 
stance, fighting will inhibit the 
drive to flee. In this way, Maes 
says, the computer animals are lit- 
erally motivated by internal and 
external factors to behave in a va- 
riety Of complex ways. 

In the future, motivated ani- 
mats like those designed by 
Maes will leap from the comput- 
er screen in 3-D, nuts-and-bolts 
splendor to sense the environ- 
ment, adapt to the world, and trav- 
el around at will. These smart and 
flexible creatures may eventually 
clean our homes, deactivate 
bombs, and traverse the endless 
void of space.' Whether their 
tasks are mundane or downright 
dangerous, the animats are sure 
to become our trusty assistants. 
They will ultimately perform in 
ways no conventional robot 
could master, releasing us from 
the many unpleasant activities we 
reluctantly accept today. And judg- 
ing from their capabilities, who 
knows how far evolution will take 
them? Some pundils suggest 
that, let loose in space or under 
the sea, advanced animats 
might possess the independence 
and adaptive ability to develop vi- 
brant colonies, even civilizations, 
of their own. 




Inspired by the notion of 
robots modeled after 
the myriad creatures in nature, 
artist and animal 



systematician Louis Bee 
has generated a new body of 
work — as he calls it, 
a zoology of change. Bee's 
colorful, futuristic 
creatures, shown above, 
were spawned by the 



artist along the border zone 

of technology and 

biology, imagination and art. 



52 OMNI 



The United States Space Foundation A|>|JTT Q.I? 1001 



THE BROADMOOR HOTEL 
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO 



concerning his ai 
d States Space Foi 



II'S CATALOG 
F ANIMAT5 

Animats in Al labs 
* around the world are 
:urrently simple creatures. 
But in the future, they will 
find their way into our every- 
day lives. To learn about future ani- 
mat species, we've polled the ex- 
perts and gazed into our own crys- 
tal ball. A collection of potential 
animals follows below: 
PETMATS 

The first animats may be toy 
pets that perceive the environ- 
ment through sensors modeled 
on those of real animals. Their 
individual behavior patterns will 
evolve during their own lifetimes, 
as their neural networks build up 
memories of past situations. 

Catmats, the first petmats to 
be built, will be designed with 
eyes that are especially acute at 
night. These animats will perform 
a double duty as both affection- 
ate pets and stalkers of house- 
hold pests such as rodents and 
roaches. To accomplish the lat- 
ter task, their neural networks 
will help them identify unwanted 
animals, as well as each species' 
patterns ot flight and avoidance. 

With different neural circuitry, 
dogmats will play catch and 
hunt animals such as rabbits. 
Components of their brain circuits 
will make the sense of smell the 
. most acute of their senses. 



Birdmats, a possibility for fu- 
ture amusement parks, will fly in 
flocks according to primitive be- 
havior patterns that make them fol- 
low the bird directly in front of 
them. To accomplish this, their 
eyes will work much like those of 
the hover fly. 
DOZERMATS 

Some day hordes of tiny, bulldoz- 
eriike autonomous robots may con- 
struct vast habitats for humans. 
These could be as small as an 
inch on a side and powered by 
solar cells. They could even cre- 
ate a moon base, for example, a 
suggestion put forward by MIT's 
Brooks. His dozermats would car- 
ry out only simple actions, such 
as digging and picking up piles 
of dirt. Together, however, they 
would proceed, like ants building 
their hills, to construct vast, intri- 
cate structures. Dozermats 
could also find uses on Earth, 
building and maintaining roads. 

Variations on dozermats, equip- 
ped with different attachments, 
could also function as robotic log- 
gers and farmers. Their mental cir- 
cuitry could identify trees and 
plants appropriate for harvesting, 
navigate difficult terrain, plow, 
and plant new growth. 
WORKERMATS 

Applications for animats would 
crop up in environments from the 
home to the bottom of the sea. 
Workennats could carry your 
drinks from the kitchen to the liv- 



ing room but would also have 
many more important functions. 
Consider a contaminated nucle- 
ar power plant, Workermats 
" could withstand high heat and le- 
thal radiation to perform their 
cleanup duties. Their bottom-up 
mental logic would allow them to 
navigate the unpredictable terrain 
of a severely damaged facility 
with much greater adaptability 
than any robot relying on a prepro- 
grammed floor plan. They would 
be equipped with radiation detec- 
tors, vision sensors, and pressure- 
sensitive "skin" to alert them to 
potential obstructions. 

The workermats brain would 
consist of a variety of modules, 
each motivated to survive and ac- 
complish tasks. Specific mental 
components — collision avoid- 
ance, power replenishment, and 
debris collection, for instance- 
would run parallel, each compet- 
ing for control over the wheels 
and arms of the animat. 
BOOBTUBEMATS 
These are a favorite fantasy of 
MIT's Brooks. He envisions tiny ro- 
bots that would live iTi a corner of 
the screen when the set was on 
When it was turned off, they 
would scurry around on its sur- 
face cleaning the dust. They 
would be cheap, perhaps a few 
dollars for a vial of 50 or 100 of 
the creatures. For power, the 
boobtubemats would have their 

CON II r. USD ON PAGE 94 




The work of artist Louis Bee sug- 
gests that the animat 

may one day be as honed for sur- 
vival as lions, leopards, 



or even the indestructible of technomorphogenesis, 

bacteria. Bee says that when technology 

his array of creatures, including and biology join hands. 

those shown above, 

illustrate the variety of creatures 

scientists may create 

through the powerful technique 



■_«. Jy old San Fran- 
, capital of the E 



readying her great-great- 
multi-great-uncle for his 
first trip over there in forty- 



remaining resident: green 



j?" She touched the vi- 
node that ji 
a tiny titanium mushroom 
from his left temple, giving 
it a quarter turn. Maybe the 



was machinery m 
tically everything 



anyone wanted to keep se 
niors alive that long wa 



irs were figure out. Or why (he 

i man lid- "No shit!" Muscle stalks polyurethane and cobalt- seniors wanted to be kept. 

es whiie moved slowly around in the chromium, his eardrums But she was only nineteen, 

e going crepey convolutions of his were Teflon and platinum, She allowed for the possi- 

hile." cheeks. "Imagine that. A his melacarpal joints were bilfty that she might take a 

the city, hundred years. That's one silicone with titanium different view of things 

— ,mn long time." Then grammets. His elbows had when die got to be. 



going to give you a medal. 
Don't tell me you've forgot- 
ten already." 



"We did, Un< 

"We did? You sure?" 







LASTSURVIVING 

VETERAN 
OF THE WAR 

OF 
SAN FRANCISCO 

FICTION BY 
ROBERT SILVERBERG 

All you have to 

do to become a hero is 

live long enough 

ILLUSTRATIONS BY 
MYCHAELMAIER 



them, some of them pretty 
trivial. But Carlotta diligent- 
ly ran down the whole list. 
tapping in a query and get- 
ting a green tram each lit- 
tle readout plate. It took 
close to ten minutes. The 
newer-model senior-rehab 
equipment had just a sin- 
gle readout, which gave 
you a go or a no go, and if 
you got the no go you 
could immediately request 
data on specific organic or 
pseudo-organic malfunc- 
tions. But Uncle James 
was one of the early mod- 
els, and there was no mon- 
ey in the rehab budget for 
updating citizens left over 
from the previous century. 

■'You think I'll live?" he 
asked her, suddenly feisty. 

"For another five hun- 
dred years, minimum." 

Quickly, deftly, she fin- 
ished the job of making 
him ready to go out. She dis- 
connected the long intrave- 
nous line from the wall and 
put him on portable, She dis- 
abled his chair control over- 
ride so that she alone 
could guide the move- 
ments of his vehicle via the 
remote implant in her 
palm. She locked the re- 
straining bars in place 
across his chest to keep 
him from attempting some 
sudden berserk excursion 
on foot out there. More 
than ever now, the old man 
was the prisoner of his own 
life-support system. 

Just as she finished the 
job Carlotta felt a strange in- 
ner twisting and jolting as 
though an earthquake had 
struck: the unexpected, sick- 
ening sensation of seeing 
herself in his place, old and 
withered and shrunken and 
mostly artificial, feeble and 
helpless in the grip of a life- 
support. Her long slender 
legs had turned into pret- 
zels, her golden hair was 
thin colorless straw, her 
smooth oval face was a 
mass of dry valleys and cre- 
vasses, Her eyebrows 
were gone, her chin jutted 

®1991 by Agberg, Ltd, 




/HEN 
SHE'D FIRST COME TO 

THE CENTER 

THERE HAD BEEN SEVEN 

VETERANS 

LIVING THERE, BUT 

ONE BY ONE 

THE OLD GUYS HAD HAD 

MALFUNC- 

i, AND ONLY JAMES 

WAS LEFT. 



like some old witch's. The 
only recognizable aspect 
of her was her clear blue 
eyes, and those, still 
bright, still quick and 
sharp, glared out of her ru- 
ined face carrying such a 
charge of hatred and fury 
that they burned through 
the air in front of her like 
twin lasers, leaving trails of 
white smoke. 

Not me, she thought. 
Not ever, not tike that. 

She pressed down 
hard on her palm implant 
and sent the old man's 
chair rolling toward the 
door, which opened at his 
approach. And out they 
went into the hallway. 

Carlotta had been work- 
ing as a nurse at the cen- 
ter for a year and a half, ev- 
er since she'd left high 
school. Itwasn't the kind of 
work she had hoped for. 
She had imagined doing 
something with singing in 
it, or music, or maybe act- 
ing, at least. When she had 
first come to the center 
there had still been seven 
veterans living there and a 
staff of twelve, but one by 
one the old guys had under- 
gone random system mal- 
functions, probabilistic 
events that became statisti- 
cally unavoidable the deep- 
er you got into your second 
century, and now only 
Uncle James was left, the 
last survivor of the army of 
the War of San Francisco. 
The staff was down to four; 
Dr. McClintock, the direc- 
tor; three nurses. But every- 
body understood that 
when Uncle James finally 
went they'd all lose their 
jobs. 

That morning, when Car- 
lotta showed up, there was 
a note from Sanchez, the 
night nurse, waiting for her 
in the staff room. GOD help 
YOU IF ANYTHING HAPPENS 
TO YOUR UNCLE IN THE CITY 
TODAY. 

"Hot weather today," Un- 
cle James said, as they 
emerged from the building, 

"Very nice for Decem- 
ber, yes," 



"Hot. Not just nice, Hot. 
It must be a hundred de- 
grees." 

"A hundredVimpossi- 
ble, Uncle. It doesn't get 
that hot even in Death Val- 
ley. A hundred and the 
whole world would melt." 

"Bullshit. It was a hun- 
dred degrees the day the 
war started. Everyone re- 
members that. The four- 
teenth of October, hot as 
blazes, a hundred degrees 
smack on the nose at 
three in the afternoon. 
When those Nazi Stukas 
started coming over the ho- 
rizon like bats out of hell." 

"Nazis?" she said. 
"What Nazis?" 

"The invading force. 
Hitler's Wehrmacht." 

"That was a different 
war, Uncle. A long time be- 
fore even you were born." 

"Don't be so smart. 
Were you there? Like ea- 
gles, they were, those 
planes. Merciless. They 
strafed us for hours in that 
filthy heat. Blam! Blam! Chk- 
chk-ch'k-chk-chk! Blam!" 
He glowered up at her. 
"And it's a hundred de- 
grees right now, too, If 
you don't think so, you're 
wrong. I know what a hun- 
dred degrees feels like." 

The temperature that 
morning was about eigh- 
teen, maybe twenty, Very 
nice for December, yes, 
But then Carlotta realized 
that the degrees he was talk- 
ing about were the old 
kind, the Fahrenheit kind, 
One hundred on the old 
scale might be forty or forty- 
five real degrees, she fig- 
ured. But he might be hav- 
ing some appercept trou- 
ble, or maybe even a boil- 
over in the metabolism 
line. She leaned over and 
checked the master chair 
readout. Everything 
looked okay. He must just 
be excited about getting to 
go to the city. 

The car that the Armi- 
stice Centennial people 
had sent was waiting out 
front. It had a hinged gate 
and a wheelchair ramp so 




she could roll him right into it. The driv- 
er looked like an android, though he 
probably wasn't. Uncle James sat qui- 
etly, murmuring to himself, as the car 
pulled away from the curb and head- 
ed down the hill toward the freeway. 

"We in the city yet?" he asked, after 
a time. "We're just reaching the 
bridge, Uncle." 

"The bridge is broken. That was the 
first thing they bombed in the war." 

"There's a new bridge now," Carlot- 
ta said. The new bridge was older 
than she was, but she didn't see much 
purpose in telling him that. She swung 
him around to face the window and 
pointed it out to him, a delicate, flexi- 
ble ribbon of airy suspension cable 
swaying in the breeze. It was like a 
bridge of glass. The shattered pylons 
of the old bridge that rose from the bay 
alongside it seemed as ponderous as 
dinosaur thighs. 

"Some bridge," he muttered. 
"Looks like a piece of rope." 

"It'll get us there," she told him. 

According to the center records, he 
had been taken to San Francisco for his 
hundredth birthday. He hadn't been 
much of anywhere since. Just sitting in 
his chair, doing nothing, living on and 
on. If you called that living. Old James 
had outlasted his son by more than a 
century— he had been killed at the age 
of something like twenty-two in the War 
of San Francisco, during the raid by the 
Free State of Mendocino. He had out- 
lived his grandson, too, victim of an un- 
explained sniper attack while visiting 
Monterey. Hell of a thing, to outlive 
your own grandson. James's closest rel- 
ative was his great-granddaughter, who 
lived in Los Angeles and hadn't come 
north in decades. And then Carlofta. 

She felt sorry for the old man. And 
yet he had managed to have one big 
thing in his life; the war. That was some- 
thing. His one moment of glory. 

Her life had had nothing in it at all, 
so far, except the uneventful getting 
from age zero to age nineteen, and 
that was how it looked to remain. The 
world was pretty empty, locally, these 
days. You couldn't expect much when 
you lived in a country thirty miles 
across, that you could drive from one 
end of to the other in an hour, if.you 
could drive. At least Uncle James had 
had a war. 

They were on the bridge now, 
meshed with its transport cable, whiz- 
zing westward at a hundred kilometers 
per hour. Carlotta pointed out land- 
marks on the way, in case he had for- 
gotten them. "There's Alcatraz Island, 
do you see? And that's Mount Tamal- 
pais, away across on the Marin County 
side. And back over there, behind us, 
you can see the whole East Bay, 
Oakland, Berkeley, El Cerrito ..." 

ThB old man seemed interested.. He 
responded with a jumble of military his- 

62 OMNI 



tory, hazy memories intermixed with 
scrambled details out of the wrong 
wars. "The Mendocino people came in 
right through there, where the San Ra- 
fael bridge used to be, maybe two hun- 
dred of them. We fixed their wagons. 
And then the Japs, General Togo and 
Admiral Mitsubishi, but we drove them 
back, we nuked their asses right out of 
here. Then a week afterward there was 
a raid by San Jose, came up through 
Oakland, we stopped them by the 
Alameda Tunnel— no, it was the 
bridge — the bridge, right, we held 
them, they were cursing at us in gook 
and when we went in to clear them out 
we found that Charlie had planted 
Bouncing Betties everywhere, you 
know, antipersonnel mines ..." 

She didn't know what he was talking 
about, but that was all right. Most of the 
time she didn't know what he was talk- 
ing about, nor, she suspected, did he. 
It didn't matter. He rambled on and on. 



4She could 
see the sleek Brazilian in 

the crowd. He 
was staring at the old man 

' as though he 
were a mound of emeralds. 
Then he flicked 
his gaze toward Carlotta, 9 



The bridge crossing took ten minutes — 
there was hardly any traffic — and then 
they were gliding down the ramp into 
the city. 

Carlotta felt a little wave of excite- 
ment stirring within her. Approaching 
the city could do that to you. It was so 
lovely, shining in the bright sunlight 
with the waters of the bay glittering all 
around. A place of such infinite prom- 
ise and mystery. 

Let me have an adventure while I'm 
over there, she-.prayed. Let me meet 
someone. Let something really unusu- 
al happen, okay? 

She hadn't been in the city herself in 
six or eight months. You tended not to, 
withoutsome special reason, If only she 
could park the old man for a couple of 
hours and go off to have some fun, see 
the clubs, maybe check out the new 
styles, meet someone lively. But that 
wasn't going to happen. She had to 
stick close' by Uncle James. At least 
p she was here, a perfect day, blue sky, 
'warm breezes blowing. The city was 
where everything that was of any inter- 
est in Korthern California went on. It was 



the capital of the Empire of San Fran- 
cisco, and the Empire was the center 
of the action. Everything else was small- 
time, even if the small-time places want- 
ed to give themselves fancy names: the 
Republic of Monterey, the Free State of 
Mendocino, the Royal Domain of San 
Jose. Once upon a time,-of course, it 
had all been a lot different. 

"San Francisco," Carlotta said. 
"Here we are, Uncle!" 

They came off the bridge at the down- 
town off-ramp. There were bright ban- 
ners everywhere, the imperial colors, 
green and gold. Crowds were in the 
streets, waving little flags. Carlotta 
heard the sound of a brass band some- 
where far away. The driver was taking 
them up the Embarcadero now, around 
toward the plaza at Market Street, 
where the Emperor was going to pre- 
side over the ceremony in person. Be- 
cause theirs was just about the only car 
in the vicinity, the spectators had fig- 
ured out that someone important must 
be riding in it, and they were cheering 
and waving. 

"Wave, Uncle! They're cheering you. 
Here, let me help you." She touched her 
finger to his motor control and his right 
arm came stiffly up, fingers clenched. 
A little tine tuning and she had the fin- 
gers open, the palm turned outward, 
the arm moving back and forth in a 
nice sprightly wave. 

"Smile at them," she told him. "Be 
nice. You're a hero." 

"A hero, yes. Purple Heart. Distin- 
guished Service Cross. Croix de 
Guerre. You ought to see my medals 
sometime. I've got a box full of them." 
He was leaning forward, peering out the 
car window, smiling as hard as he 
could. His arm jerked convulsively; he 
was trying to move it himself. Good for 
him. She let him override her control. He 
waved with surprising energy, a jerky 
wave, almost robotic, but at least he 
was doing it under his own power. 

They had a big platform made out of 
polished redwood up at the plaza, 
with a crowd of VIPs already there. As 
the car approached, everyone made 
room for it, and when it halted just in 
front of the platform Carlotta hopped 
out and guided Uncle James's chair 
down the car's wheelchair ramp and in- 
to the open. 

"Ned Townes," a fat sandy-hatred 
man with a thick brown mustache told 
her, pushing his face into hers. "Impe- 
rial adjutant. Splendid of you to come. 
What a grand old soldier he is!" He 
gave Uncle James a sidelong glance. 
"Can he hear anything I say?" He 
leaned down next to Uncle James's 
ear and in a booming voice he bel- 
lowed, "Welcome to San Francisco, 
General Crawford! On behalf of His 
Imperial Majesty Norton the Fourteenth, 
welcome to — " 

Uncle James shot him a withering 

CONTINUED ON PAGE 80 



ESSAY BY ISAAC ASIMOV 

Computer-enhanced photos of 
nature hard at work 



PHOTOSYNTHESIS 



CAPTIONS BY KELLEE MONAHAN 




THE WORLD'S LEADING SCIENCE WRITER ASKS US 
TO REFLECT WITH HIM ON HOW SIMPLE MATERIALS 
SUCH AS THE DROPLETS OF WATER ABOVE COMBINE 
WITH OTHER ELEMENTS IN A PROCESS THAT GIVES 
US THE FOOD WE EAT AND THE AIR WE BREATHE. 




1 ALL LIVING THINGS ARE DRIVEN BY CHEMICAL ENERGY. THE 
SOURCE OF THAT ENERGY, IS A PROCESS THAT TAKES PLACE IN ALL 
GREEN PLANTS. 2 ROOTS ABSORB WATER AND CARRY ITS 
MOLECULES THROUGH PASSAGEWAYS CALLED XYLEM. WATER 
MOLECULES THEN ENTER THE PLANT'S LEAVES. 3 LEAVES SOAK 



Think for a moment of the things you don't think about. 

You are breathing and, with every breath, you con- 
sume oxygen and produce carbon dioxide. The proc- 
ess is absolutely essential to life, and you have been 
doing this during all your existence. So has every oth- 
er person on Earth. In fact, all animal life, from whales 
to water fleas and from bulls to beetles, has been do- 
ing this very same thing and has been doing it for at 
least 2 billion years. 

The question is, How is it that we've never used up 
all the oxygen and died for lack of it? 

Again, it is essential for life that we eat, and what 
we eat is food (never mind the chemistry). In order to 
get the energy we need to maintain life, we combine 
the food with oxygen to produce water and carbon di- 
oxide. We all do it constantly. Why haven't we run out 
of food as well as oxygen? 

Obviously, the only answer is that something exists 
that reverses the process. All animal life is marked by 
the following: Food plus oxygen forms water plus car- 
bon dioxide. 

Somewhere on Earth, therefore, there must be a re- 
verse process that can be described as water plus car- 
bon dioxide forms food plus oxygen. 

And there is! Green plants, exposed to sunlight, con- 
vert water and carbon dioxide into food and oxygen. 

IN CARBON DIOXIDE FROM THE ATMOSPHERE. THE STAGE IS 
SET FOR PHOTOSYNTHESIS TO TAKE PLACE. 4 A FLOOD OF 
LIGHT MAKES THE ACT COMPLETE. LIGHT'S ENERGY POWERS A VA- 
RIETY OF CHEMICAL REACTIONS. 5 THE REACTIONS INVOLVE 
CHLOROPHYLL AND A HOST OF OTHER CHEMICALS AND ENZYMES. 



6 AS A RESULT, WATER AND CARBON DIOXIDE ARE TRANSFORMED 
INTO SUGAR AND OXYGEN. THE ENERGY FROM LGHT IS NOW 
STORED AS CHEMICAL ENERGY. 7 PLANTS, WHETHER DIRECTLY 
EATEN BY HUMANS OR FED FIRST TO FOOD ANIMALS, HOLD THE 
SUN'S ENERGY IN RESERVE FOR US. 8 THE STORED ENERGY EN- 



TERS OUR SYSTEMS AS FOOD, CARRIED THROUGH THE BLOOD- 
STREAM. 9 SUGARS IN THE FOOD ARE ONCE AGAIN BROKEN 
DOWN INTO ENZYMES AND CHEMICALS. lO OUR MUSCLES RE- 
LEASE THE ENERGY STORED DURING PHOTOSYNTHESIS. WE EXHALE— 
AND RELEASE CARBON DIOXIDE. THE CYCLE BEGINS ANEW. 




and the balance has thus been preserved through all 
the existence of life on our planet. 

Since the conversion of food and oxygen to carbon 
dioxide and water produces the energy that maintains 
animal life, the reverse process, conducted by green 
plants, must consume energy, (You get nothing for noth- 
ing in this world.) Where does the energy come from? 

It comes from the energy of visible light. As an en- 
ergy source, light is perfect for two reasons: First, it is 
unimaginably copious. The earth is constantly bathed 
in sunlight. Second, visible light is a mild, unintense 
form of energy that does little or no harm. 

About 2 billion years ago, tiny bacterialike cells 
called cyanobacteria (which still exist on Earth) devel- 
oped the chemistry to handle sunlight and make use 
of its energy to form food and oxygen. The ocean slow- 
ly filled with food, and the air slowly filled with oxygen, 
and eventually the groundwork was laid for the devel- 
opment of life more complex than bacteria. 

Some of the complex life forms that eventually 
formed we r e green plants, and some were animals, Be- 
tween the two of them the balance was maintained. 

What is it in green plants that does the trick? It is a 
compound called chlorophyll, which rather resembles 
the heme in animal hemoglobin. Chlorophyll is a bit 
more complicated and has a magnesium atom where 



^*£s1a 



,-,i 








heme has an iron atom, But it is not simply chlorophyll 
that does the trick. If it were, we could isolate chloro- 
phyll and put it to work. Instead the chlorophyll exists 
in intricate and complex little organelles within the 
cell, organelles called chloroplasts, and it is these that 
perform the process called photosynthesis ("put togeth- 
er by light"). 

Using modem techniques — powerful microscopes, 
radioactive tracers, and so on — chemists have man- 
aged in the last generation to work out many of the de- 
tailed changes that take place within the chloroplasts. 
They have learned how certain chemicals change into 
others and how units of sunlight are incorporated into 
the process so as to supply the necessary energy. 

However, we have not learned how to repeat this proc- 
ess with anything less complex than a chloroplast, so 
that not all the knowledge we have yet gained will suf- 
fice to have us replace, or supplement, the work of the 
green plants. 

This is not to suppose that someday we won't, that 
the day might not come when we can set up artificial 
systems for the conversion of water and carbon diox- 
ide into food and water. If so, it is precisely such artifi- 
cial systems that may make long human flights 
through space possible and may enable us, someday, 
to reach the stars. DO 




Earthquake depths are less accessible 

than the moons of Jupiter, 

says a top seismologist, who predicts 

a one-in-five chance of a 

Big One in the San Francisco Bay 

Area in the next five years 

IfUTERY/IEUU 




In 1983 Allan Lindh fore- 
cast the Loma Prieta earth- 
quake. He did not, of 
course, say it would occur on 
October 17, 1989— as it did— 
nor even that it was due be- 
fore the turn of the century. 
What he said was he saw a 50 
to 90 percent chance of a 
major quake in that California 
segment of the San Andreas 
Fault within the next 30 years. 

Lindh, a top seismologist 
with the U.S. Geological Sur- 
vey fUSGS), was not alone 
in his suspicions of that particu- 
lar segment of the San An- 



dreas Fault. In the 16 months 
before the Loma Prieta 
earthquake, the USGS issued 
two warnings of increased 
risk in that area. Afterward 
most agreed that "the earth- 
quake Al Lindh predicted 
took place," as colleague 
Wayne Thatcher put it. 

In the fall of 1990 Lindh did 
not predict a 50 percent 
chance of an earthquake 
along the New Madrid Fault 
on December 3. In fact, he 
thought it highly implausible 
that an earthquake would 
occur in that south-central 



PHOTOGRAPH BY RUVEN AFANADOR 



area at that time. When December 3 
came and went and there was no 
quake, Lindh took this fact to be a "di- 
rect sign of the existence of God, who 
chose to signal that She was on the 
side of the real seismologists." 

Earthquake prediction is still a nov- 
elty in the world of respectable science. 
Unlil a few decades ago the mere idea 
of a scientific basis for forecasting was 
a laugh. "Only fools, charlatans, and li- 
ars predict earthquakes," said Charles 
Richter. But growing knowledge of 
plate tectonics in the Severities gave 
some rationale to the sudden ruptures 
of the earth. We now understand that 
an active fault zone is the result of two 
continent-sized plates grinding by 
each other. In some places movement 
is gradual; in others rocks lock togeth- 
er until the pressure becomes over- 
whelming, whereupon an earthquake 
snaps them past each other. 

So earthquake prediction should be 
simple. All you have to know is how 
fast the plates are moving and how 
much plate divergence leads to a 
quake, and you've got it. But even with 
adequate earthquake history and 
good measurements (very tricky), the re- 
sult is still approximate. The current idea 
of a prediction, or "forecast," is to pos- 
it along the lines of a 30 percent 
chance in the next 3D years. 

Lindh is trying to narrow the span. A 



leading force in establishing the 
USGS's Parkfield Earthquake Experi- 
ment, tpday he is lobbying to wire the 
San Francisco Bay Area with earth move- 
ment analyzing instruments, Calling it- 
self "the earthquake capital of the 
world." Parkfield (population 34) in cen- 
tral California averages a medium- 
sized quake about every 22 years. In 
1 985 the federal government issued its 
first official earthquake prediction — a 90 
percent chance of a magnitude six by 
1993 — based on research at Parkfield. 
The last Parkfield quake was in 1966, 
and the next is overdue. Meanwhile sev- 
eral million dollars worth of measuring 
devices have been sunk into the 
Parkfield earth in the hope that after the 
quake to come, Monday-morning quar- 
terbacks will be able to sort out the sig- 
nals unique to imminent earthquakes. 
Lindh, forty-seven, has spent his ca- 
reer with the USGS in Menlo Park, Cal- 
ifornia. Having received his Ph.D. at near- 
by Stanford, he lives with his family 
about half a mile from the San Andreas 
Fault. A beeper on his belt informs him 
of most significant quakes in Northern 
California. Lindh submits that his career 
as a seismologist began with cleaning 
ducks at age five. The route from 
ducks to seismology was not direct. Af- 
ter dropping out of college during the 
Cuban Missile Crisis, he spent the next 
decade' driving a garbage truck, work- 




ing in a Canadian oil field, and arguing 
with his draft board. When he finally ar- 
rived at the University of California at San- 
ta Cruz, Lindh studied geophysics. 
Part of the appeal of seismology, he ad- 
mits, was that so little was known 
about it then a young man in a hurry 
could pick it up pretty fast. 

San Francisco writer Esther Wanning 
toured Parkfield with Lindh — and his of- 
fice, where newspapers, unfiled reports, 
and rolled-up charts made a landfill 
that raised the floor level several feet. 
Like many people too busy lo organize, 
Lindh demonstrated an uncanny abili- 
ty to dive through the crust and pro- 
duce the article under discussion. A 
path led to the desk, where a PC with 
ties to earthquakes worldwide reigned. 
On Wanning's second visit, Lindh, in 
deference to an out-of-kilter back, 
stretched out with his head nearly un- 
der his desk and the tape recorder rest- 
ing on his stomach. 

Twice beepers sounded and seismol- 
ogists from all over the building con- 
verged on a set of seismometers record- 
ing quakes. -As neither disturbance 
proved alarming, the crowd quickly dis- 
banded. But every little quake adds to 
the big picture. The USGS center in 
Menlo Park issues a weekly seismicity 
report for Northern California—invented, 
nurtured, and written by Lindh. The re- 
port, which describes the past week's 
rumbles and the changing prognosis for 
future quakes,' is widely circulated and 
nervously watched by the media. For Al 
Lindh, earthquake prediction is any- 
thing but academic. 

Omni: When climatologist Iben Brown- 
ing predicted the quake on the New 
Madrid Fault, his theory correlated earth- 
quakes with high tidal forces. Were you 
nervous he might be right? 
Lindh: No. I knew the odds were no dif- 
ferent for December third than for any 
other day, when they are probably 
about one in a hundred thousand. In 
fact, I've never seen such a low level 
of seismicity around the world as there 
was during this five-day period. I 
doubt if anyone will ever take seriously 
again the question of tidal triggering of 
earthquakes. Careful examination of 
earthquake data over decades shows 
that there isn't anything to it. Theoreti- 
cally, it's plausible. The sun and the 
moon do distort the earth, and one 
would expect that tides would trigger 
a quake some of the time. The mystery 
is that they do not. 

Omni: Browning supposedly had pre- 
dicted previous earthquakes, 
Lindh: If you predict enough events, 
some of them are bound to be right. 
Then if you selectively recall the ones 
that correspond with something, you 
can claim with a straight face that you 
can predict earthquakes. 
Omni: Why was he taken seriously? 



Lindh: Because the low-rent journalists 
who picked up the story wanted head- 
lines and filled them with irresponsible 
distortions. The good science reporters 
adamantly avoided the topic. 
Omni: Where were you when the 
quake of October 17, 1989, struck? 
Lindh: In my truck with my feet hang- 
ing out, watching my son's soccer 
game. The field was in the middle of a 
primeval forest, and the trees swayed 
back and forth along with my truck, I 
enjoyed it. I had no idea what it was, It 
seemed too small to be the one we an- 
ticipated on the Hayward Fault, and too 
big for Loma Prieta. With so many 
faults close at hand there was no way 
of knowing immediately. 
Omni: But you'd predicted it. 
Lindh: That's putting it too strongly. Pre- 
diction is not a black-and-white issue, 
but a long continuum of grays from long- 
term projections to short-term stuff. If 
you rate predictions on a scale of one 
to ten, we got a three for Loma Prieta. 
in 1 982 we specified an earthquake on 
the Loma Prieta segment in 1988— 
plus or minus seven years. But we be- 
came more wishy-washy in the interven- 
ing years. We hit the spot right, but the 
earthquake slipped more, went deep- 
er. So our projected 6.5 turned out to 
be a 7.1 [on the Richter scale]. 

Earthquake depths are less acces- 
sible than the moons of Jupiter. With ac- 
tion taking place ten or twelve kilome- 
ters down, the strain signals are hard 
to measure because they decay quick- 
ly. Even for large events, the surface 
manifestation is very small. Quakes are 
the archetypal nonlinear process. The 
earth takes hundreds of years storing 
vast amounts of energy and then gives 
it all back in seconds. You don't need 
chaos theory to tell you that if you don't 
know much about the input parameters, 
you won't know much about extreme 
nonlinear behavior. That's the down- 
side. The up side is that foreshocks, oc- 
curring within the prior twenty-four 
hours near the epicenter, tell us 
there's action before a quake. It's like 
when you bend a stick; you hear crack- 
ling before it snaps. If it weren't for 
foreshocks, prediction might still be 
something of a bad joke. Another prob- 
lem is that each segment probably has 
different characteristic symptoms. 
Omni: Then what do you go by? 
Lindh: The starting point is to divide the 
amount the earth moved in the last 
quake by the slip rate. That's very 
approximate, and you can only expect 
to get within about ten percent of the 
recurrence time. We can measure 
ground movement with lasers and sat- 
ellites to find how fast the plates are mov- ■ 
ing, .but we only have a vague idea 
what the critical point for rupture is. 

We knew the Loma Prieta segment 
was dangerous because the southward- 
oropagating rupture of the San Andreas" 

CONTINUED ON PAGE SB 



'? ' "' 






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be OF THE 



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1 1 that they did 



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Berqer, president of tl 



GHOST VOICES 

Spooky-looking figures 
'ly been 
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Hollywood, Florida, groi 



left behind by Arnold Barber, 
a recently deceased 
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believe that psychic talei 



been lov^,,^^ 
another haunted house ; 
investigation, Poulin sup- 
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State University of New 
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ifessor Paul Kurtz, 
heads CSICOP (the Commi 
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IS 



BBS 



I deciphered after their 
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vohosts, Poulin anvthinq," Kurtz says. 





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pointing at his 
Psychologis 


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THE SURVIVAL RESEARCH 
FOUNDATION 
SEEKS MESSAGES FROM 
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edc 



"livers who believe in life 

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LAST VETERAN 



scowl. 

"You don't have to shout like that, 
boy," Uncle James said. "I can fucking 
well hear better than you can." 

Townes reddened, but he managed 
a laugh, "Of course, Of course." 

Carlotta said, "Is the Emperor here 
yet?" 

"In a little while. We're running a bit 
late, you understand. If you and the gen- 
eral will take seats over there until we're 
ready to call him up to receive his med- 
al—well, of course, he's seated already, 
■ ;but you know what I — " 

"Aren't we going to sit on the plat- 
form?" Carlotta asked. 

"I'm afraid it's reserved for city offi- 
cials and dignitaries." 

She didn't move. "Uncle James is a 
dignitary. We came all the way from 
Berkeley for this, and if you're going to 
shunt him into some corner for hours 
and hours while you—" ■ 

"Please," Townes said. 

"He's a hundred forty-three years old, 
do you realize that?" 

"Please," he said. "Bear with rfie." He 
looked ready to cry. "The Emperor him- 
self will personally decorate him. But un- 
til then, I have to ask you ..." 



He seemed so desperate that Car- 
lotta gave in. She and Uncle James 
went into a roped-off area just below 
and to the left of the platform. Uncle 
James didn't seem to mind. He sat qui- 
etly, lost in dreams of God knows what 
moment of antique heroism, while Car- 
lotta, standing behind his chair, kept 
one eye on his systems reports and 
took in the sighL; of cowntown San Fran- 
cisco with the other, the huge tapering 
buildings, the radiant blue sky, the un- 
usual trees; the shining bridge stretch- 
ing off to the east. 

Uncle James said suddenly, "What 
are all these foreigners doing here?" 

"Foreigners? What foreigners?" 

"Look around you, girl." 

She thought at first that he meant peo- 
ple from the neighboring republics and 
kingdoms: San Jose, Santa Cruz, Mon- 
terey, Mendocino. It wouldn't be surpris- 
ing that they'd be here, considering 
that this was a celebration intended to 
commemorate the signing of the Armi- 
stice that had ended the war of every- 
body against everybody and guaran- 
teed the independence of all the vari- 
ous Northern California nations. But how 
could Uncle James tell a Santa 
Cruzian or a Montereyan from a San 
Franciscan? They didn't look any differ- 
ent down there. They didn't dress any 
different. 



Then she realized that he meant vis- 
itors from the countries beyond the 
seas. And indeed there were plenty of 
them all around the plaza, a lot of exot- 
ic people carrying cameras and such, 
Japanese, Indians, Latin Americans, Af- 
ricans. They were wearing exotic cloih- 
ing, most of them. Many h'ad exotic fac- 
es. The old man was staring at them as 
though he had never seen tourists be- 
fore. 

"San Francisco is always full of visi- 
tors from far away, Uncle. There's noth- 
ing new about that." 

"So many of them. Gawking at us 
like that. They dress like gooks, girl. 
Didn't we fight that war to keep San Fran- 
cisco for the San Franciscans? A pure 
nation of pure people. Look at them all. 
Look at them!" 

"It's the most beautiful city in the 
world," Carlotta said. "People have 
been coming from all over to see it for 
hundreds of years. You know that. 
There's nothing wrong with — " 

He was raging, though. "Yellow peo- 
ple! Black people! Brown people! Why 
not green people, too? Why not purple 
people? Their faces! Their eyes! And 
the clothes they wear! Who let them in? 
What are they all doing here?" 

"Uncle," she said, reaching down sur- 
reptitiously to give his adrenaline damp- 
er a little downtwist. 




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"Leave that thing alone, girl!" 

"I don'i want you getting all worked 
up." 

"Look at them," he said again, qui- 
etly. 

They seemed to have noticed now 
that the celebrated last surviving veter- 
-an of the War of San Francisco was 
right down here among them at street 
level. They came crowding in sudden- 
ly from all sides of Ihe plaza, five or ten 
of them at first, then a couple of dozen 
at least, maybe more, an eager horde, 
crossing into the roped-in area, push- 
ing, jostling, pointing, grinning, waving 
at the old man as though he were 
some zoo creature, Carlotta understood 
now why Uncie James had. begun to 
get so upset. These people looked re- 
ally strange. The Bay Area was full of 
people whose ancestors had been 
born in distant countries, but time had 
blurred their genes and they simply 
looked like people. These were differ- 
ent, the authentic original foreign item, 
mysterious, alien, She found hersell en- 
gulfed in a sea of disturbingly unusual 
faces, odd-snapec noses, gleaming in- 
tense eyes. And everybody jabbering 
in different languages, everybody shout- 
ing questions she couldn't compre- 
hend. It was like a frantic carnival 
scene, some wild festivity j'n some re- 
mote tropical land. The closest ones 



rubbeci :ne - hards curiojs.'y along the 
wheels of Uncle James's chair, 
touched his sleeves, even reached ou! 
to finger his pendulous rubbery 
cheeks. Cameras clicked and buzzed, 
a swarm of goggle-eyed lenses, video, 
holo, solido. Microphones sprouted 
like, toadstools in a rain forest. 
Everyone wanted a piece of Uncle 
James. 

Carlotta made angry shooing ges- 
tures at them. "Get back! Get back\ 
He's a very old manl You'll scare him! 
He'll have a stroke! Give him air! Give 

Parade marshals helped her push 
them away. They retreated reluctantly 
but good-humored ly, continuing to jab- 
ber in unknown languages and snap- 
ping pictures of Uncle James every 
step of the way. After a few momenis 
of continued confusion they were all out- 
side the ropes again. 

The old man seemed okay. He was 
sitting forward alertly in his chair, beady- 
eyed, shaking his fist, shouting curses 
at them. 

But somehow one of the foreigners 
had avoided the marshals and was still 
within the enclosure, right next to Un- 
cle James. He was tall and stately, a port- 
ly man of great presence and authori- 
ty: some sort of Latin American, from 
the looks of him, with a soft pudgy olive- 



toned face and glossy black hair. His 
skin and his hair were very sleek, as 
though he oiled them daily. He was ex- 
pensively dressed in a way that no lo- 
cal could afford, gray cashmere trou- 
sers and a finely cut camel's-hair jack- 
et, and there was an emerald the size 
of an eyeball in a ring on his plump 
hand. 

Carlotta went over, 

"Your pardon," he said at once. 
"This is the ce'eb'a:cd veteran of the 
famous war,"who will be honored here 
today?" 

"He's General James Crawford, yes." 

"Obrigado. A grand pleasure to 
make his acquaintance." 

"Listen, you aren't supposed lo be — " 

"One moment only. You will permit 
trie? I am Humberto Maria de Magal- 
haes, of Minas Gerais, which is in Bra- 
zil. I am visiting here, a trade delega- 
tion. Your city is so splendid, I love it 
so much. I revere it. Its beauty, its long 
tormented history." 

She looked around for the marshals, 
but they had moved on. "You really 
aren't supposed to be — " 

"Yes. Yes-. With your permission. If I 
could speak with the general, after the 
ceremony''" He indicated an elaborate 
recorder, easily a ten-thousand-dollar 
job, 'The study of history, it is my pas- 
sion. Your history, the tragic tale of 



your country, ils greatness, its downfall. 
To speak with the general, to hear 
from his lips the reminiscences of his 
days of battle, the actual descriptions 
of the warfare — it would be ecstasy for 
me. Ecstasy. Do you undersland my 
words?" 

"His Imperial Highness Norton the 
Fourteenth!" cried a man with an 
enormous voice. Carlotta looked 
around. A ground-effect palanquin be- 
decked with gaudy banners was float- 
ing solemnly up the street toward the 
plaza. 

"You've got to go now," Carlotta 
said. "Look, the Emperor's arriving." 

"But later, perhaps?" 

"Well—" 

"It is for the sacred purpose of schol- 
arship only. Half an hour to speak with 
this great man — " 

"All welcome His Imperial Highness!" 
the immense voice called. "Later," the 
Brazilian said urgently. "Please!" He 
slipped under the rope and was gone. 

Carlotta shrugged. If the Brazilian on- 
ly knew that nothing Uncle James said 
made sense, he wouldn't be so eager. 
She turned to stare at the Emperor, atop 
his palanquin. She had never seen him 
live before. The Emperor was a surpris- 
ingly small man, very frail, about fifty, 
with pale skin and tiny hands, which he 
held extended to the crowd in a kind 
of imperial blessing. The palanquin, drift- 



ing a little ways above the pavement, 
came forward to the reviewing stand 
and halted like an obedient elephant. 
Members of the imperial guard helped 
him out, and up the stairs of the plat- 
form to the position of honor. 

Someone began a long droning 
speech of welcome. The mayor of San 
Francisco, Carlotta supposed. It went 
on and on, this grand occasion, this tri- 
umphant day of the commemoration of 
the hundred-year peace, on and on 
and on, yawn and yawn and yawn. The 
foreigners' cameras and recorders 
whirred diligently. Uncle James 
seemed to be asleep. Carlotta's atten- 
tion wandered. Now and then a cheer 
rose from the assembled citizens. 

She could see the sleek Brazilian in 
the crowd. He was staring at the old 
man as though he were a mound of em- 
eralds. Then he noticed Carlotta watch- 
ing him, and he flicked his gaze toward 
her, letting his eyes rest on her in a 
warm insinuating way, and smiled a 
sleek smile that gave her shivers. As if 
he was buying her with that smile. 

What did he want, really? Just to 
talk? 

Uncle James was awake again. In- 
stead of looking at the Emperor, who 
had begun to speak in response to the 
mayor's oration, he was peering at the 
rows of foreign tourists, gaping at 
them as' though they came not merely 




from other continents but from other 
planets. In a way, Carlotta thought, 
they did. Who could get to Japan or Bra- 
zil or Nigeria from here? They come to 
us; we don't go to them. It used to be 
different, she knew. Hundreds of years 
ago, before everything fell apart, when 
America had been all one country of 
incomprehensible size that stretched 
from ocean to ocean, its citizens had 
gone everywhere in the world. But now 
there were thousands of little principal- 
ities where America had been, and no 
one went anywhere much. 

"A century ago," the Emperor was say- 
ing, "the fate of this entire area was at 
stake. Every man's hand was raised 
against his neighbor. Cities that long 
had lived in peace had gone to war 
against their fellow cities. But then, on 
this day exactly one hundred years ago, 
the climactic battle of the War of San 
Francisco was fought. This city and its 
valiant allies in the East Bay and Marin 
stood firm against the invaders from the 
outlying lands. And on that day of tri- 
umph, when the peace and security of 
the Empire of San Francisco was 
made certain forever — " 

"Start moving the old man up to the 
top of the platform," Ned Townes whis- 
pered. "He's going to get his medal 

Uncle James was asleep again. Car- 
lotta gave him a little adrenaline jolt. 

"It's time, Uncle," she whispered, 

They had a ramp around back. She 
touched her palm control and the wheel- 
chair began to glide up it. The big mo- 
ment at last. 

The Emperor smiled, shook Uncle 
James's hand the way he would shake 
a turkey's claw, said a few words, this 
gallant survivor, this embodiment of his- 
tory, this remnant of our glorious past, 
and put a sash around his neck. At the 
end of the sash there was a mud-col- 
ored medal the size of a cookie, which 
seemed to have a portrait of the Emper- 
or on it. That was it. Carlotta found her- 
self wheeling Uncle-James down the 
ramp a moment later. Evidently the old 
man wasn't expected to say anything 
in reply. They couldn't even stay on the 
platform. 

For this they had traveled all the way 
from Berkeley? "Will you find us our driv- 
er?" she said to Ned Townes, "We 
might as well go back home now." 

Townes looked shocked. "Oh, no! 
You can't do that. There are further cer- 
emonies, and then a banquet at the pal- 
ace this afternoon for all the celebrities," 

"Uncle James doesn't eat banquet 
food. And he's getting very tired." 

"Even so. It would be terrible if you 
left now." Townes tugged at his jowls. 
"Look, stay another hour, at least. You 
can't just grab the medal and disap- 
pear. That's the Emperor up there, 
young lady." 

"I don't give a damn if he's — " 



But Townes was gone. The Emperor 
was award. ng another —edal, this time 
to a wide-shouldered woman who al- 
ready was wearing an assortment of dec-' 
orations that had a glittery Southern Cal- 
ifornia look about them. 

"Permit me," a deep confident voice 
said. The Brazilian again. Leaning over 
the rope, tapping her on the shoulder. 
Carlotta had forgotten all about him. 

"Is if possible to discuss, now, an op- 
portunity for me to record the great gen- 
eral's reminiscences, perhaps?" 

"Look, we don't have lime for that. I 
just want to get my uncle out of here 
and back across the bay." 

He looked distressed. "But before 
you leave — half an hour — fifteen 
minutes ..." 

She glanced down at the emerald ring. 
A gleam came into her eyes. "There's 
a fee, you know. For his time. We can't 
just let him talk to people for free." 

"Yes. Yes, of course. Why should 
there not be a fee? It is no problem. We 
will discuss it." He offered her an en- 
graved card, holding it close in front of 
her face as if he wasn't sure she knew 
how to read and holding it close might 
help. "This is my name. I am at the Im- 
perial Hotel. You know that hotel? You 
will come to me when this is over? With 
the general? You agree?" 

"Sorry, sir." a marshal said. "Thfs ar- 



ea is for official guests only." 

"Of course. Understood." The Brazil- 
ian began to back away, nodding, bow- 
ing, smiling brilliantly. To Carlotta he 
said, "I will see you later? Yes?' I am 
very grateful. Obrigado! Obrigado!" He 
disappeared into the crowd of foreign 
visitors. Behind her, on the reviewing 
stand, the Emperor was giving a med- 
al to a man' in a uniform of. the San Jo- 
se Air Force. 

It was almost noon now. People 
were coming out of the nearby office 
buildings. Some of them were carrying 
sandwiches. Carlotta began to feel 
fiercely hungry. Townes had talked 
about a banquet that afternoon, but the 
afternoon seemed a long way away. Un- 
cle James got fed by intravenous line, 
but she needed real food, and soon. Em- 
peror or no Emperor, she had to gel out 
of here, and Townes could go whistle. 
Maybe the thing to do was find the Bra- 
zilian, strike a deal with him, let him 
take her to his hotel and buy her lunch. 
And then he could interview Uncle 
James all he wanted, so long as the old 
man's strength held out. 

All right, she thought. Let's get 
moving. 

But where had the Brazilian gone? 

She didn't see him anywhere. Leav- 
ing Uncle James to look after himself 
for a moment, she slipped under the 



rope and went over to the place where 
the foreign visitors were clustered, No, 
nc sign of him. People began to jabber 
at her and take her picture. She 
brushed her hand through the air as 
though they were a cloud of gnats. Pro- 
ducing Ihe Brazilian's card, she said, to 
no one in particular, "Have you seen 
Humberto — Humberto Jose de Magal — 
Magal — " It was a struggle to pro- 
nounce his name. 

He must have gone, though. Perhaps 
he was on his way to his hotel, to wait 
for them. 

She rushed back to Uncle James. 
Some people had crept into the rpped- 
off area and were pushing microphones 
into his face again. Angrily Carlotta hit 
her palm control, backing up his wheel- 
chair and pulling it toward her right 
through the flimsy rope, At a brisk 
pace she headed across Ihe streel to 
the parking area where she hoped 
their driver was waiting. Ned Townes, 
red-faced, materialized from some- 
where and furiously wigwagged at her. 
but she smiled and waved and nodded 
and. kept on going He shouted some- 
thing to her but didn't pursue. 

The driver, miraculously, was still 
there. "Imperial Hotel," she said, 

"Where?" 

"Imperial Hotel. Downtown, some- 
where." 




DNVIDED F^ 



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"I'm supposed to take you Oac* So 
the East Bay." 

"First we have to go to the Imperial. 
There's'a reception there for my great- 
uncle." 

The driver, sullen, androidal, looked 
right through her and said, "I don't 
know about no reception. I don't know 
no Hotel Imperial. You're supposed to 
go to the East Bay." ' 

"First we stop at the Imperial," she 
said. "They're expecting us. I'll show 
you how to get there," she told him 
grandly, 

To her amazement he yielded, swing- 
ing the car around in a petulant U-turn 
and shooting off toward Market Street. 
Carlotta studied the signs on the build- 
ings, hoping to find a marquee that pro- 
claimed one of them to be the Imperi- 
al, but there were no hotels here at all, 
only office buildings. They turned 
right, turned left again, started up a 
sieep hill. 

"This is Chinatown," the driver said. 
"That where your hotel is?" 

"Turn left," she said. 

That took them down toward Market 
Street again, and across it, At a stop- 
light she rolled down the window and 
called out, "Does anyone know where 
the Imperial Hotel is?" Blank faces 
stared at her. She might' just as 
have been speaking Greek or Arabic. 
Tne driver, on his own, turned o:"i:c Mis- 
sion Street, took a lefl a few blocks B'- 
er. turned left again soon after. Carlot- 
ta looked around desperately. This was 
a district of battered old warehouses, 
She caught sight of a sign directing traf- 
fic to the Bay Bridge and for a moment 
decided that it was best to forget 
about the Brazilian and head for 
home, when unexpectedly a billboard 
loomed up before them, a glaring six- 
color solido advertising, of all things, the 
Imperial Hotel. They were right around 
the corner from it, apparently. 

The Imperial was all glass and con- 
crete, with what looked like giant mir- 
rors at its summit, high overhead. It 
must have been two or three hundred 
years old. They hadn't built buildings 
like that in San Francisco for a long 
time. Carlotta got Uncle James out of 
the car, told the driver to wait across 
the street, and. signaled to a doorman 
to help them go inside. 

"I'm here to see this man," she an- 
nounced, producing MagalftSes's 
card. "We have an appointment. Tell 
him that General James Crawford is wait- 
ing for him in the lobby." 

The doorman seemed un mp'e-:sed 
"Wait here," he said. Carlotta waited 
a long time. Uncle James muttered 
restlessly. 

Some hotel official appeared, stud- 
ied the Brazilian s ca r d. studied her, mur- 
mured something under his breath, 
went back inside. What did they think 
she was, a prostitute? Showing up for 




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a job with an old man in a life-support 
chair to keep her company? Another 
long time went by. A different hotel per- 
son came out. 

"May I have your name," he said, not 
amiably. 

"My name doesn't matter. This is Gen- 
eral James Crawford, the famous war 
hero. Can you see the imperial medal 
around his neck? We've just been at the 
Armistice celebration, and now we're 
here to see the delegate from Brazil, Mr. 
Humberto Maria — " 

"Yes, but I need to know your 
name." 

"My name doesn't matter. Just tell 
him thai General James Crawford — " 

"But your name — " 

"Carlotta." she said. "Oh, go to hell, 
all of you." She pressed the palm con- 
trol and started to turn Uncle James 
around. There was no sense enduring 
all this grief. Just then, though, an 
enormous black limousine glided up to 
the curb and Humberto Maria de Magal- 
haes himself emerged. 

He sized up the situation at once. 

"So you have come after all! How 
good! How very good!" 

The hotel man said, "Senhor 
Magalhaes, this woman claims—" 

"Yes. Yes. Is all right. 1 am expect- 
ing. Please, let us go inside. Please. 
Please. Such a great honor, General 



Crawford!" He extended his arms in 
a gesture so splendid that it would 
have been worthy of the Emperor him- 
self. "Come," he said. He led them into 
the building. 

The iobby of the Imperial was a 
great glittering cavern, all glass and 
lights. Carlotta felt dizzy. The Brazilian 
was in complete command, shepherd- 
ing them to some secluded alcove, 
where waiters in brocaded livery came 
hustling to bring champagne, little 
snacks on porcelain trays, a glistening 
bowl brimming with fruit. Magalhaes 
pulled a recorder from his pocket, a 
holido scanner, and. two or three other 
devices, and set them on the table be- 
fore them. 

"Now, if you please, General 
Crawford — " 

"The fee," Carlotta said. 

"Ah. Yes. Yes, of course." 
Magalhaes pulled crumpled old dirty 
bills from his wallet, imperial money, 
green and gold. "Will this be enough, 
do you think?" 

She stared. It was more than she 
made in six months. But some demon 
took hold of her and she said, reckless- 
ly, "Another five hundred should do it." 

"Of course," the Brazilian said. "No 
problem!" He put another bill on the 
edge of the table and aimed his lens 
at the old man. "I am so eager to re- 



cord his memories. I can hardly tell you. 
Now, if you" would ask the general to 
discuss the day of the famous battle, 
first—" 

Carlotta bent close to the old man's 
audio intake and said, "Uncle, this man 
wants you to talk about your war expe- 
riences. He's going to record a sort of 
memoir of you. Just say whatever you 
can remember, all right? He'll be tak- 
ing your picture, and this machine will 
record your words." 

"The war," Uncle James said. And im- 
mediately lapsed into silence. 

The Brazilian watched, big-eyed, 
holding his breath as if he feared it 
would interfere with the flow of the old 
man's words. 

But there were no words. Carlotta, 
who had tactfully left the Brazilian's mon- 
ey on the table, thinking it would look 
a little better not to pocket it until after 
the interview, began to wish now that 
she had taken it right away. 

The silence became very long in- 
deed. 

She reached down and gave the old 
man a little spurt of heptocholinase 
through the IV line. That seemed to 
do it. 

" — the invasion," Uncle James said, 
as if he'd been speaking silently for 
some time and only now was bothering 
to come up to the audible level. And 



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then words poured out of him as she 
had never heard them come before, a 
bubbling nonstop spew. It was like the 
breaking of a dam. "We- were dug into 
the trenches, you understand, and the 
Boche infantry came sneaking up at us 
from the east, under cover of mustard 
gas — oh, that was awful, the gas — but 
we called in an air strike right away, we 
hit them hard with napaim and antiper- 
sonnel shrapnel, and then we came 
ashore with our landing craft, hit them 
at Anzio and Normandy both. That was 
(he beginning of it. Our entire strategy, 
you understand, was built around a ter- 
minal nuclear hit at -Bull Run, but first 
we knew we had to close the Darda- 
nelles and knock out their command cen- 
ter back of Cam Ranh Bay. Once we 
had that, we'd only need to worry 
about the Prussian cavalry and the pos- 
sibility of a Saracen suicide charge, but 
that wasn't a real big risk, we figured, 
all the Rebels were pretty well demor- 
alized already and it didn't make 
sense that they'd have the balls to 
come back at us after all we'd thrown 
at them, so — " 

"What is he saying, please?" the 
Brazilian asked softly. "He speaks so 
quickly. I am not quite understanding 
him, I think." 

"He does sound a little confused," 
said Carlotta. 

"Well, -we drove the Turks complete- 
ly out of the Gulf of Corinth, and were 
heading on toward Lepanto wiln sixty- 
four galleys, full steam ahead. Then 
came a message from Marlborough, 
get our asses over to Blenheim fast as 
we knew how, the French were trying 
to break through— or was it the Poles — 
well, hell, it was a mess, the winter was 
coming on, that lunatic Hitler actually 
thought he could take out Russia with 
a fall offensive and damned if he didn't 
get within eighty miles of Moscow be- 
fore the Russkies could stop him, and 
then — then — " Uncle James looked up. 
There was a stunned expression on his 
face. All his indicators were flashing in 
the caution zone. His cheeks were 
flushed and he was breathing hard, 

Carlotta let her hand rest lightly on 
the little stack of bank notes. 

"He's very overexcited," she ex- 
plained. "This has been a big day for 
him. He hasn't been in San Francisco 
for forty-three years, you know." 

"Wait," Uncle James said. He 
stretched a hand toward the Brazilian. 
"There's something that I need to say." 

There was an unfamiliar note in his 
voice suddenly, a forcefulness, a 
strange clarity. The cloudiness was 
gone from it, the husky senile woo Ill- 
ness, It sounded now like the voice 
of someone 'else entirely, someone a hun- 
dred years younger than Uncle 
James. 

The Brazilian nodded vigorously. "Yes, 
tell us everything, General! Everything." 



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Uncle James smiled. There was an 
eerie look on his face. "I wasn't a gen- 
eral, for one thing. I was a programmer. 

I never fought an actual battle. I certain- 
ly never killed anybody. Not anybody. 
It's all a lie, that I was any kind of hero. 

II was just an error in the computer rec- 
ords and I never said anylhing about it 
to anybody, and now it's so long ago 
that nobody remembers what was 
what. Nobody but me'. And most of the 
time I don't even remember it myself," 

Uh-oh, Carlotta thought. 

As secretively as she could manage 
it, she slid the bills from the table into 
her purse. The Brazilian didn't appear 
to notice. 

Uncle James said, "It was only a two- 
bit war, anyway. A lot of miserable skir- 
mishes between a bunch of jerkwater 
towns gone wild with envy of what they 
each thought the other one had, and in 
fact nobody had anything at all. That 
was what ended the war, when we all 
figured out that there was nothing any- 
where, that we were wiped out from top 
to bottom." He laughed. "And there I sat 
in the command center at the universi- 
ty the whole time, writing software. 
That was how I spent the war. A hun- 
dred goddamn years ago." 

The Brazilian said, "His voice is so 
clear, suddenly," 

"He's terribly tired," said Carlotta. 
"He doesn't know what he's saying. I 
should have just taken him right home. 
The interview's over. It's too much of a 
strain on him." 

"Could we not have him continue a 
small while longer? But perhaps we 
should allow him to rest for a little," the 
Brazilian suggested. 

"Rest," Uncle James said. "That's all 
I fucking want. But they don't ever let 
you rest. You fight the Crusades, you 
fight the Peloponnesian, you fight the 
Civil, you get so tired, you get so fuck- 
ing tired All those wars. I fought 'em 
all. Every one of them at once. You run 
the simulations and you've got the Na- 
zis over here and Hannibal there and 
the Monterey crowd trying to bust in up 
the center, and Hastings, and Tours, 
and San Jose — Grant and Lee — Char- 
lemagne' — Napoleon — Eisenhower 
— Patton ..." 

His voice was still weirdly lucid and 
strong. 

But it was terrible to sit here listen- 
ing to him babbling like this. Enough is 
enough, Carlotta decided. She 
reached down quickly and hit main ce- 
rebral and put him to sleep. Between 
one moment and the next he shut 
down completely. 

The Brazilian gasped. "What has hap- 
pened? He has not died, has he?" 

"No,. he's all right. Just sleeping. He 
was too tired for this. I'm sorry, Mr. 
Magal— Magal — " Carlotta rose. The 
money was safely stowed away. "He's 
badly in need of rest, just as you heard 



him say. I'm going to take him home. 
Perhaps we can do this interview 
some other time. I don't know when. I ' 
have your card I'll call you, all right?" 

She flexed her palm and sent the 
chair moving out into the main lobby of 
the hotel, and toward the door. 

The driver, thank God, was still sit- 
ting there. Carlotta beckoned to him. 

They were halfway across the bay be- 
fore she brought the old man back to 
consciousness. He sat up rigidly in the 
chair, looked around, peered for a mo- 
ment at the scenery, the afternoon 
light on the East Bay hills ahead of 
them, the puffy clouds that had come 
drifting down from somewhere. 

"Pretty," he said. His voice had its old 
muddled quality again. "What a god- 
damn pretty place! Are we on the 
bridge? We were in the city, were we?" 

"Yes," she told him. "For the anni- 
versary of the Armistice. We had our- 
selves a time, too. The Emperor himself 
hung that medal around your neck." 

"The Emperor, yes. Fine figure of a 
man. Norton the Ninth." 

"Fourteenth, I think." 

"Yes. Yes, -right. Norton the Four- 
teenth," the old man said vaguely. "I 
meant Fourteenth." He fingered the med- 
al idly and seemed to disappear for a 
moment into some abyss of thought 
where he was completely alone. She . 
heard him murmuring to himself, a 
faint indistinct flow of unintelligible 
sound. Then suddenly he said, revert- 
ing once more'to that tone of the same 
strength and lucidity that he had been 
able to muster for just a moment at the 
Imperial Hotel, "What happened to 
that slick-looking rich foreigner? He was 
right there. Where did he go?" 

"You were telling him about General 
Patton at Bull Run, and you got over- 
excited, and. you weren't making any 
sense, Uncle. I had to shut you down 
for a little time." 

"General Patton? Bull Run?" 

"It was that time you nuked the Reb- 
els," Carlotta said. "It's not important if 
you don't remember, Uncle. It was all 
so long ago. How could anyone expect 
you to remember?" She patted him 
gently on the shoulder. "Anyway, we 
had ourselves a time in the city today, 
didn't we? That's all that matters. You 
got yourself a medal, and we had our- 
selves a time." 

He chuckled and nodded, and said 
something in a voice too soft to under- 
stand, and slipped off easily into 
sleep. 

The car sped onward, eastward 
across the bridge, back toward 
.Berkeley. DO 

Robert Silverberg is the author of Lord Val- 
entine's Castle. Dying Inside, and Nightfall 
(in collaboration with Isaac Asimov). He 
is a nine-time winner of the Hugo and the 
Nebula awards. 



BACH 



the future will use the whole body, 
modulating arrangements with a sort 
of dance. 

As Machover sees it, the typical con- 
cert of 2010 may be a hybrid of visual 
and aural sensations, an extension of 
today's choreography and laser pyro- 
technics at a rock show, but with two 
differences; The gyrations of the perform- 
ers will make part of the music. And 
most concertgoers will see and hear it 
all from their own homes. 

At 7:55 p.m., five minutes before the 
. concert, you'll put on goggles and a 
headset. They'll be connected through 
your home computer to a telephone or 
cable TV line fed by cameras at a dis- 
tant site. Screens inside the goggles, 
one for each eye, will reveal the perform- 
ers in 3-D. 

They won't be tuning their instru- 
ments as today's players do before a 
concert, because the computers will 
keep their instruments in perfect pitch. 
The major action at the remote- studio 
will be typing by a computer program- 
mer, making last-minute changes in Ihe 
database holding all the notes written 
by the composer. As you turn your 
head, your hardware will sense your 
movement and change the scene be- 
fore your eyes, as if you were there. 

When the music begins, the perform- 
ers themselves will determine what you 
see as well as what you hear. As virtu- 
al reality guru Jaron Lanier, founder of 
VPL Research, Inc., in Redwood City, 
California, sees it, saxes or horns will 
create scenes as well as notes. For in- 
stance, he says, in addition to follow- 
ing a written musical score, the horns 
will blow majestic mountains with B 
flats, or sandstorms in C minor right on- 
to the giant screen in your room. Musi- 
cians in funky artificial reality DataSuits 
could be the horns, Lanier says. Their 
total body movements — an extension of 
Machover's finger flexing — will translate 
into sights-and sounds. 

That means that many more people, 
and possibly animals, will be able to 
play along. Lanier says he has long 
dreamed ol building instruments for in- 
fants who would control a flow of notes 
by sucking on an electronic nipple. 
Among animals, he adds, goats have 
the most potential. "They relate well to 
flutes," he says. But how would they 
make music? By chewing on an elec- 
tronic cud. Lanier even predicts lhat 
some future orchestra could include a 
chorus of kids — goats and human ba- 
bies. "It'll probably top the charts in 
2005," he says. 

Ultimately sensors in home hypermu- 
sic systems will pick up brain wave pat- 
terns and feed them to a computer/ 
conductor. If you choose, your central 

94 OMNI 



nervous system will change the colors, 
shapes, and sounds of an incoming con- 
cert to match your moods. Your anger. 
for example, could tinge what you see 
with violent red. 

In fact, even after the concert, speak- 
ers in your house will continue to pro- 
duce background music that reflects 
your mind's interior landscape — uptem- 
po riffs when you're happy, a dirge to 
match your blues. 

Music that moves with the listener 
may be part of the score of Machover's 
next opera, tentatively titled Can 
We Change Our Minds? Working with 
artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin 
Minsky, Machover plans to set the op- 
era in a "malleable" concert hall so 
that what you hear would depend on 
where you walked. 

Audience actions in one part of the 
listening space would affect the sound 
in other areas. Only in one designated 
area would you be able to see and 
hear the music in its entirety and 
watch how the complicated parts 
come together in a curious harmony. On- 
ly there would you get an overall 
glimpse of the opera's main character; 
the human brain. 

Like the best music of the twenty- 
first century, the opera will draw audi- 
ence members into a greater aware- 
ness of iheir own listening patterns, Ma- 
chover says. More than that, the music 
will be a magic mirror, revealing deep 
secrets about the listener. Standing in 
the middle of that future concert — in the 
midst of music you control — you'll 
know something of what Mozart and 
Bach felt as they iictecieci from their tow- 
ering podiums. From that spectacular 
vantage point, Machover says, "you'll 
find yourself thinking about your mind 
in a whole new way." DO 



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Mitchell; page 22: Geoffrey Chandler; 
page 26: Joe McNally/Sygma; page 30: Kev- 
in Schafer/Peter Arnold; page 33: Clayton 
Anderson; page 34; ComsLOck; page 35: 
Kazuaki Iwasaki/Space Art International; 
page 36 top: Olga Spiegel; page 36 bottom: 
Takashi Yamazaki. page 38 top: Kazuaki 
Iwasaki; page 38 bottom: Adam Harper Cy- 

-xt Publishing: page 40 top: 
Richard Fuscia/Retna; page 40 bottom: Stein- 
er Lund; page 50: Takashi Yamazaki; page 
52 lop: Takashi Yamazaki; page 52 bottom; 
computer graphics by Louis Bee: page 54 
top: Takash Yamazaki: page 54 bottom: com- 
puter graphics by Louis Bee; pages 63-67: 

excerpts : '0rn Few:.- of *.'*? , L 7,'jn/PFuj'tsu 
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John Stuart. 



MechAnimals 



mental functions broken down into sim- 
ple behavioral units that competed for 
control of the entire creature. These be- 
haviors would include collecting dust, 
avoiding collisions, ar el recharging pow- 
er packs. Boobtubemats would differ 
from traditional Al robots in thai they 
would have no internal representation 
of the TV screen and would not actu- 
ally know that their combined behaviors 
worked to clean the set. 
VACUUM MATS 

A robotic cleaner the size of a cat 
might be just the thing to cut down on 
human-powered housework. It would 
hide in a corner of a rdbm whenever 
someone was moving around, then go 
around sweeping when atone. After col- 
lecting a sufficient pile of debris, it 
would take it to a receptacle for future 
pickup by an artificial creature pro- 
grammed to move through the house 
emptying the trash cans.. For these 
tasks, the vacuummat would need sen- 
sors that could detect sound, motion, 
and obstacles. It would also need be- 
havior modules lor avoiding obstacles 
AUTOMATS 

Imagine stepping into your car, telling 
it where to go, then sitting back and let- 
ting it drive. Such a vehicle would be 
equipped with sufficient artificial intelli- 
gence to plot a' course and follow it ef- 
ficiently, avoiding obstacles and other 
automats. Some versions might look 
like today's cars, but others might 
have sets of legs to negotiate rough off- 
road terrain. The internal logic of such 
a device would allow it to sense veloc- 
ity and to maintain safe speeds, using 
inhibition modules to monitor traffic, bal- 
ance, and road conditions. 
SOLDIERMATS 

Take a workermat and give it a gun and 
you've got a soldiermat. Additional men- 
tal components would be added to per- 
mit the animat to differenliate between 
friend and foe and to aim its weapon 
at the enemy. Navigation, obstacle avoid- 
ance, balance, and other mental com- 
ponents standard to animats would 
make this a formidable — and expend- 
able — adversary. Such an animat 
could fight on modern high-risk atom- 
ic, biological, and chemical battlefields. 
LABANIMALMATS 

Living only in the memory banks of 
computers, these virtual creatures 
would be another breed of animat. 
They would be carefully modeled to mim- 
ic the precise physiology of various an- 
imals and humans. Using these ani- 
mats, scientists could run simulations, of 
drug tests witrou; risKirg human life or 
sacrificing real creatures. Researchers 
could also use populations of labanimal- 
mats to study evolution, epidemiology. 
and ecology, DO 



IfUTERV/IElAJ 



ran out of steam more in 1906. The north- 
em end of the fault slipped about six- 
teen feet in .1906, whereas the Loma Pri- 
ela segment slipped only four and a 
half to seven feet. The 1 989 quake was 
making up some ot the shortfall. We 
don't expect another quake on the north- 
ern end for a hundred years. 
Omni: Why have you turned your atten- 
tion to the Hayward Fault? 
Lindh: The Hayward Fault runs right 
through old urban areas in Oakland and 
Berkeley and is very close to San Fran- 
cisco, so a big earthquake will be a mon- 
umental tragedy — like war, with caskets 
lining the roads and gymnasiums stack- 
ed with body bags. The fault produced 
big quakes in the last century, but we 
don't know on exactly which segments. 
Other seismologists and I have float- 
ed a proposal for installing instrument 
clusters along two or three sensitive 
fault segments in the Bay Area. Next I'd 
wire the San Bernardino area in South- 
ern California. The most dangerous 
part of the southern San Andreas, in the 
Coachella Valley, is quite a ways Irom 
Los Angeles. The threat to L.A. de- 
pends on whether three segments 
down there go as one. If they do, L.A. 



gets hit hard. But the San Bernardino 
Mountains are a tremendous unknown 
in the fault. Whether the San Andreas 
can rupture through those mountains in 
one great quake is an open question. 
Omni: What are the odds for a major 
earthquake in the Bay Area? 
Lindh: Our latest estimates are sixty- 
seven percent for a major quake in the 
next thirty years. That's twenty-eight and 
twenty-three percent for the northern 
and southern segments of the Hayward 
Fault, and twenty-three percent for the 
San Francisco peninsula segment ol 
the San Andreas. The odds for the pen- 
insula segment went up after Loma Pri- 
eta, as we assume Loma Prieta put 
more pressure on the segment north of 
it. It's reasonable to speak of a one-in- 
live chance for a major quake in Ihis re- 
gion in the next five years. Partially be- 
cause in the past, earthquakes on the 
San Andreas and Hayward faults 
seem to have come in pairs. Possibly, 
though, that's just coincidence. We do 
know that recently we've entered into 
a seismically active period. 
Omni: It gives me chills. 
Lindh: Me, too In a big quake on the 
Hayward Fault, we'll see ground motion 
maybe five times as great as Loma Pri- 
eta, and it'll go on much longer. The 
nineteenth-century quakes did a lot of 
damage, and there was wilderness 



where there are now major cities with 
lots of people packed into old buildings. 
And because of the amount of landfill, 
there's great liquefaction potential along 
the waterfront. A state of California sce- 
nario for a magnitude 7.5 on the Hay- 
ward estimates up to four thousand 
dead and injuries in the tens of thou- 
sands. A lot of the energy from a 
quake on the Hayward Fault will end up 
in the soil structure the freeways and 
bridges are built on. These cities will suf- 
fer from both ends of the fault. 
Omni: Why are there so many other 
faults out there? 

Lindh: Because the earth has a crust 
like raisin pudding. It's got four billion 
years of history, and it's very complicat- 
ed in the upper hundred kilometers. In 
iowa the crust is a pretty solid structure. 
but in California it's been holy hell for 
the last hundred million years with the 
plates moving apart and smashing to- 
gether. The fault would like to be 
straight and clean from Mexico to Ore- 
gon, but things like the Sierras get in 
the way, so it zigs and zags. Earth- 
quakes take the path of least resistance 
through the raisin pudding. 
Omni: What are the odds of an earth- 
quake east of the Rockies? 
Lindh: One magnitude seven per cen- 
tury isn't a bad guess. But nobody 
knows where or when. Florida doesn't 




THE. DAWN) Of y&SE-TARlAMlSN^i 



seem to have many, and some ot the 
cold, stable Midwestern states don't pro- 
duce many dots on the map. Heaven 
only knows what's providing the strain 
energy driving Eastern quakes. Appar- 
ently they occur on what's called failed 
rifts, places where at some time a con- 
tinent started to split, then stopped and 
left a defect. There've been only two ma- 
jor quakes recorded east of the Rock- 
ies: Charleston, South Carolina, in 1886, 
and New Madrid, in 1811. They were 
both felt over most of the East because 
the East transmits seismic energy very 
weJI. The New Madrid quake rang 
church bells in Boston. 
Omni: What about an earthquake in 
New York City? 

Lindh: A large quake is unlikely, and the 
unlikely event would be at most a mag- 
nitude seven. But should such a thing 
happen, it would be too terrible to 
think about. The Eastern building 
codes have paid little attention to earth- 
quakes; if these buildings had been on 
the West Coast they'd have fallen 
down long ago. So in a magnitude sev- 
en earthquake, tens or hundreds of thou- 
sands of people could die. New York 
City is capable of the kind of disaster 
that occurred in Iran [in 1990]. But 
you'd have to get an extremely improb- 
able event in exactly the wrong place. 
We're miserably failing to give seis- 
mic hazards in the East the study they 



deserve. It's a scandal. Over the past 
twenty years we've started to build a frag- 
mentary picture. But that work was driv- 
en almost entirely by the rush to build 
nuclear power plants. Now that they're 
unfashionable, there's little funding 
This is grossly irresponsible. You can'" 
wait until 2050 to record the microearth- 
quake that occurred in Ohio in 1991 
Our children and grandchildren will nol 
have the data needed to make hard de- 
cisions about where to put critical 
cilities, and they'll end up making the 
same stupid decisions we do. The pity 
of it is that continuing the existing net- 
work of seismometers would be such a 
cheap and simple thing to do. You 
could do it for the kind of money that it 
takes to water the flowers around the 
headquarters of nuclear power plants. 
Omni: In what part of the earth's crust 
do earthquakes occur? 
Lindh: It's the upper twenty kilometers, 
in the cold, brittle part. Below that, it's 
so hot there can't be the sudden slip 
that causes quakes. It's probably 
more like hot taffy, and the movement 
goes on all the time. We don't know 
how the brittle surface faults are con- 
nected to what's going on down below. 
Is it pushing or pulling or is there a com- 
plex interaction? But 'if I had a series of 
pictures of earthquakes over the last 
few thousand years, I think the 
would.be self-evident. 




Omni: Can't you discover earthquake 
history by digging trenches? 
Lindh: Kerry Sieh of Caltech and a few 
others have dug trenches in carefully 
selected places and studied the upper 
ten to twenty feet of sediments. Sedi- 
ments adjacent to faults are disturbed 
every time there's a big quake, .and in 
lucky circumstances the record is pre- 
served. Then more sediments are laid 
on top. What you get Is like a very com- 
plicated tape recording of what hap- 
pened. But sometimes sedir-en^s 
wash away, little organisms stir them 
up, or the sedimentation is not the 
right type. There are a million reasons 
why trenching might not work. Still, 
some very smart young geologists are 
out there year after year doing the dirt- 
iest, most disgusting work a geologist 
has to do. 

Geologists like to walk around on gran- 
ite in the Sierras. They don't like to set 
scaffolding and shoring down inside wa- 
ter-filled trenches where every now and 
then a geologist is killed. Trenching is 
a dreadful business, but it. provides a 
unique picture. In one place Kerry 
Sieh has gone back two thousand 
years and can now tell when an earth- 
quake occurred to within fifty to a hun- 
dred years. His work mainly has given 
us a prediction for a sixty percent 
chance of a quake in Southern Califor- 
nia in the next thirty years. Trenching 
is a gamble, though cheap. With four 
or five good people working for four or 
five years, we might be able to answer 
the critical questions about the Hay- 
ward Fault. It takes a funny group of peo- 
ple and hard work to make a "run at earth- 
quake prediction. Right now at the 
USGS we still have the best — maybe 
the second- or third-best — bunch in the 
world working on prediction. But if four 
thousand people die along the Hay- 
ward Fault tomorrow, many of us will 
feel personally responsible. 
Omni: What good will prediction do us? 
You can't stop an earthquake. 
Lindh: As many as one quarter of the 
homes in the Bay Area are not bolted 
to their foundations, which means twen- 
ty-five percent of the people don't un- 
derstand their life savings— usually the 
equity in their homes— can disappear 
in seconds. Their negligence is crimi- 
nal. There's a lot of sloppiness in imple- 
menting building codes. Often buildings 
don't have any bracing to support the 
beams or joists underneath. Persuad- 
ing people that there's a concrete rea- 
son for taking care of these little things 
is about our most important function. 
Omni: Do you think Bay Area chambers 
of commerce prefer not to emphasize 
the coming quake? 
Lindh: Well, too bad. People squawk 
about the money, but they forget, or nev- 
er heard, that the San Andreas is the 
single greates: econcrn c boon to Califor- 
nia. The movement of the plates creat- 



eel the fault, but also the harbors, agri- 
cultural valleys, mountains that store 
snow so you can irrigate the desert 
lands, the folds that produce gas and 
oil, the coastline and everything that 
makes California such a wonderful 
place. How many tourists would come 
here if it looked like central Nevada? 
Omni: Why do some people close to 
the fault have so little damage, and oth- 
ers farther away have a great deal? 
Lindh: Part is serendipity. Earthquakes 
don't send energy out uniformly in all 
directions. In the Loma Prieta quake 
some really good houses above Los 
Gatos were shattered. Those people 
were just unlucky. The earthquake ap- 
pears to have focused a lot of energy 
on that sharp-pointed ridge. They may 
have experienced the highest intensi- 
ties anyone in the country has ever 
known. Houses leapt off their founda- 
tions, people were thrown into walls and 
through windows, and refrigerators 
flew back and forth across kitchens. 
Nonetheless no one died there because 
the houses were well built. 
Omni: What have you learned from the 
Parkfield Earthquake Experiment? 
Lindh: We!re trying to dope out how the 
long-term strain accumulation and re- 
lease cycles work, interact, and when 
they'll next reach the failure point. But 
since we haven't had the earthquake 
yet, we haven't learned how to predict 
them. We see strain building up, little 
creep events, a shift in seismicity. 

We're looking for any gradual failure. 
Before a fault slips fast — as in the earth- 
quake — it will have to slip slowly. We're 
looking for foreshocks or anything on 
the strain meters that might go along 
with them. There's evidence that sug- 
gests there's some action in the hours 
and minutes before. Slip is what we're 
looking "for. That's why we're trying to 
build good strain meters and put them 
down in holes where they get away 
from the earth's surface movement. 

The important thing is to measure the 
deformation of the earth; the earthquake 
machine down at depth is bending the 
rocks all the time. We measure this de- 
formation at Parkfield with a two-colored 
laser, measuring movement of the 
plates millimeter by millimeter, Day in 
and day out we see plate tectonics in 
action. Also people sometimes see a de- 
crease in background activity before 
earthquakes. Then the foreshocks, if 
there are any, come out of the blue. We 
don't know if this change we've seen in 
the last few years means anything, 
Omni: Three hours before the Loma Pri- 
eta quake, the intensity of electromag- 
netic waves skyrocketed, 
Lindh: If we get an electromagnetic sig- 
nal before the Parkfield quake like that 
of Loma Prieta, the world of prediction 
will change very much. It won't solve the 
whole problem. But you'd have more 
hope that when you got down to the 

100 OMNI 



lasl few days you'o bo able to give peo- 
ple something concrete. 
Omni: What about the contention that 
animals sense coming earthquakes? 
Lindh: The evidence is less than persua- 
sive. Now, it may be that water-level 
changes before quakes have driven 
snakes and rats out of their holes. But 
if strain changes are so gross that you 
can see them in shallow water, then we 
could put in instruments that would be 
cheaper and more reliable than ani- 
mals. But since the stories about elec- 
tromagnetic waves came up, it's been 
running through my head that perhaps 
some animals some of the time — and 
even people — directly sense changes 
in electromagnetic radiation. If true, and 
it there are big electromagnetic frequen- 
cy changes before quakes, it will re- 
open the question of animal behavior 
before earthquakes. 
Omni: How do the citizens of Parkfield 
feel about their coming quake? 



^Earthquakes 
occur in the upper twenty 

kilometers of 

the earth's crust. Below that 

it's so hot it's 

probably more like taffy, 

and movement 

goes on all the time.^ 



Lindh: They rather enjoy the notoriety. 
Omni: Are they afraid? 
Lindh: Nah. If you're a cattle rancher, 
you've got more worrisome things on 
your mind. Nobody's ever died in one 
at Parkfield. You'd have to be very un- 
lucky to be killed. 

Omni: Will you ever be able to say, 
"Three days hence there will be an earth- 
quake in such and such a place"? 
Lindh: I don't worry where the process 
will end up. We're decades from that 
kind of capability. 

Omni: We the public think you're going 
to tell us so we can plan for the day. 
Lindh: You're wrong. We've misled you. 
Moreover, you're not ready for it. If we 
could, you wouldn't know what to do. 
Omni: Well, tell us. 

Lindh: No, we don't have any idea 
what you should do if told when quake 
day was. We're' all in this together. 

But even if I thought there was only 
a one- in-a-thcu sand chsnes of really pre- 
dicting earthquakes, I'd still try for a way 
of understanding ;hc problem. Besides, 
earthquake research has led to seismic 
engineering and building codes that 



have made quakes much less danger- 
ous. And there's our responsibility to the 
rest of the world. Roger Bilham at the 
University of Colorado has pointed out 
there's a dreadful tendency for the su- 
percities that are growing up — especial- 
ly in the Second and Third worlds — to 
be located in lecionicaliy active areas. 
In the future we may see millions, rath- 
er than thousands, die in earthquakes 
and the accompanying fires. Our effort 
to understand earthquakes could be a 
greater contribution to people in the 
Third World than the millions we send 
in relief after a catastrophe. 
Omni: But is it feasible to have some 
sort of real-time thirty-to-sixty-second 
warning system? 

Lindh: Maybe. Because the shear 
waves that carry most of the energy trav- 
el more slowly than radio waves, we 
could detect an earthquake and radio 
ahead to warn people at a distance 
from the epicenter of what's coming. 
The instruments are the same as those 
for prediction. When you build the pre- 
diction network, you build into it the ca- 
pacity to respond in a few seconds. 

In the Midwest people buy radios 
that kick in with emergency tornado 
warnings. For quakes, we'd provide the 
signal, and electronics stores could 
sell little receivers. Within seconds we 
could provide an estimate of how big 
the ground motion was going to be and 
how long it would go on. People .could 
hook computers up to this system to 
park discs. It'd warn people in chemi- 
cal plants and refineries and probably 
be used to close some valves automat- 
ically—and give people time to run 
when a chemical vat ruptures. The guy 
working under his car would beat it, too. 
Omni: How did the Native Americans 
deal with earthquakes? 
Lindh: The Kwa-iuil, a Vancouver Island 
tribe, apparently built quake-safe lodg- 
es. They also had quake dances that 
were very elaborate, complete with 
simulations of shaking people and build- 
ings. I think those dances may have 
been a rough-and-ready hazard reduc- 
tion practice. After all, the real trick isn't 
how to build safe buildings, it's remem- 
bering to do so. People know damn 
well how to build, but they forget what 
they know. The Armenians have two 
thousand years of recorded history and 
yet in the Sixties and Seventies they 
went right ahead and put up buildings 
that killed as many as fifty thousand of 
them in 1988. The Kwakiutl appear to 
have built good buildings. 

The short attention span of humans 
is a fundamental problem in dealing 
with long-term hazards. When transmit- 
ting knowledge from generation to gen- 
eration, you need not just the knowl- 
edge, but the emotional content so 
that it gets acted upon. We're great at 
information nowadays, not so great at 
passing along emotional content. DQ 



STAR TEO 



SAY CHEESE: 

High-tech binoculars and printers are 

entering the video picture 



GREAT 
RECEPTION 

Vldl-View transmits 
video and sound— from 
cable and VCRs as 
well as broadcasts- 
front one TV to another 
within 120 feet. 
Cost: $149.95. Con- 
tacts Vidicraft, 
Beaverton, OR; (800) 
835-8023. 




Step out from behind 
the camera and get 
"In the Picture." A 
tripod -mounted cam- 
era swivels to follow 
a transmitter thai you 
can carry or clip to 
your clothes. Cost: 
$299.00. Contact: 
Visionary Products, 
Cambridge, MA; 
{800)323-3222. 







I SPY 

Keep your subject in 
focus, whether in 
the woods or the con- 
cert hall, with 
Minolta's binoculars, 
the first to contin- 
uously focus automat- 
ically. Cost: $376. 
Contact: Minolta, 
Ramsey, NJ; 
(201] 825-4000. 



FROM SCREEN 

TO 

PAPER... 

The VY-15A color 
video printer produce: 
three-and-a-half- 
by five-Inch copies of 
any image displayed 
on your television 
screen in about 1O0 
seconds. Cost: 
$999.95. Contact: 
Hitachi, Com plan, CA; 
(213) 537-8383. 




...IN ALL SIZES 

Sony's CVP-G500 

3 -inch 




■ approx- 
imately 70 seconds. 
Cost: $1,500. 
Contact: Sony, Park 
Ridge, NJ; 
(201)930-7609. 



FUZZY 
IN FOCUS 

The FVC- 
880 two- 
handed 
camcorder's 
I uzzy logic 
means no fuzzy 
videos. Cost: $999. 
Contact: Sanyo Fish- 
er, Chafsworth, CA; 
(818) 998-7322. 



*<v *v> 



GAfMES 



POSTAL SCIENCE: 

If you can't trust the facts on stamps, is it any wonder 

your letter takes a week to get across town? 



^ THE BOSTON TEA PARTY 



. US. US. 



THE BOSTON TEA PARTY S 




-THE BOSTON TEA PARTY 



THE BOSTON TEA PARTY 



[SECOUte IHTHM AL AUX INTELIiC TUELS! 




The U.S. postal service's- 
first airmail stamps, issuedin 
1918, appropriately depict- 
ed an airplane. Through a 
printing error, however, the 
Curtiss Jenny appeared up- 
side down on one entire 
sheet of 100 stamps. Phila- 
"e.is:s like Ira Zweifacli prize 
such stamps, and just one 
"Inverted Jenny" has a cat- 
alog value of more than 
$200,000 today. 

Past president of The Col- 
lectors Club, the preeminent 
organization of stamp col- 
lectors, Zwe if ach specializ- 
es in "mjstake stamps," 
which include the samples 
from, his personal collection 
on these pages. These 



slamps' errors are not in spell- 
ing, dates, or face values, 
but in the artwork itself. 
Each contains a scientific er- 
ror, a- physical impossibility, 
or a commonsense goof. 

'.■;■!!• >■■',-.: -.y ■■-::■ ' : ■ ■ 



STAMP OUT ERRORS 



1. United Spates, issued Jl- 
Iy4, 1973. One stamp in this 
block. of four shows a physi- 
cal impossibility. 

2. Luxembourg, 1935. 
This stamp was issued toaid 
the International Fund tor Pro- 
fessional People. 

3. United States, 1944. 
The scene commemorates 
the "golden spike" ceremo- 
ny on the completion of the 



transcontinental railroad. 

4. Switzerland, 1909. The 
boy holding the crossbow is 
supposed to be William 
Tell'ssoh. 

5. Monaco, 1956. The por- 
trait of U.S. president 
Dwight Eisenhower was part 
of a set to publicize the 
Fifth International Philatelic 
Exhibition in New York. 

6. Italy, issuedin 1957 to 
publicize a campaign for 
safe driving. 

7. Jaipur, India, 1931. Sev- 
en horses lead the chariot. 

8. St. Kitts-Nevis, 1903. 
Columbus peers through 
a telescope on his voyage 
of discovery, 

9. France, 1933. A worn- 



an sows seeds, as the sun 
sets (or rises). 

10. Germany, 1919, from 
that country's first set of air- 
mail stamps. 

II.SaudiArabia. 1949. An- 
other airmail stamp. 

12. Monaco, 1947. Frank- 
lin D. Roosevelt, one of The 
Collectors Club's past mem- 
bers, examines his stamp 
collection. This was part., of a 
set conimembrating'Mona- 
co's participation in the Cen- 
tennary International Philatel- 
ic- Exhibition in New York. 



ANSWERS 




PRUDENZA 
SULLA STR ADA 



1. On the upper right 
stamp, part of the rigging on 
the three-masted British frig- 




ate passes behind the cres- 
cent moon. 

2. The name of the news- 
paper,. Journal, is printed on 
the back page. 

3. The smoke from the 
irain blows in one direction, 
the flag in the other. 

4. The crossbow's string' 
is on the underside of the 
stock. A corrected version 
was issued in 1910. 

5. Eisenhower's coat but- 
tons with the right lapel on 
top, the way a woman's jack- 
et buttons, instead of left on 
top, like a man's coat. 

,6. The red light is at the 
bottom of the traffic light, rath- 
er than at the top, as is the 
inter national convention. 




Deutfcfte$?(iiQpoft 



7. The seven horses pull- 
ing the chariot have a total of 
only four legs. 

8. The telescope wasn't in- 
vented until the seventeenth 
century. 

9. Judging from the way 
her hair and dress are blow- 
ing, the woman is sowing' 
seeds /ntothe.wind. 

10. With no propeller and 
a minuscule vertical stabiliz- 
er at its. tail, this plane would 
never be able to fly. 

1 1 . There are no propel- 
lers on this pre-jet age 
airplane, and the tail fins 
are not realistic. The plane 
would crash. 

1 2. His left hand has six fin- 
gers. — Scot Morris DO 




SAfVlES 



ELECTRONIC ECSTASY: 

Last year's best computer entertainment includes 

prodigious details and masterful fantasy 



Computer entertainment 
took a mature turn in 1990. It 
meant fewer brainless 
blasters for game players 
and an upswing. in brilliantly 
detailed strategy, role-play- 
ing, and .simulation games: 
MS-DOS compute's "also 
took their place as the lead- 
ing computer game ma- 
chines. Excellent products 
continued to- appear for the 
Commodore Amiga, but the 
dropping prices and en- 
hanced tecnrclogy c PC- 
corn patibies made them the 
number one platform for com- 
puter enterta^^erl Many 
gamers achievea electronic 
ecstasy using a 386SX- 
based PC-compatible with 
256-eol or VGA g raphes and 
a Sound Blaster audio card. 



GAME OF THE YEAR: 
I'/ing Commander (Origin 
Systemsfor MS-DOS). Start 
with the most stylish graph- 
ics and animation yet to ap- 
pear in a computer game. 
Add a vivid point-pf-view 
spaceflight simulator. Bring 
the" together with edge-of- 
your-seat drama and a heart- 
thumping musical score. 
The g.-ime charts. a course to- 
ward the interactive video of 
the future in this watershed 
action/strategy game. 

BEST ARCADE GAME: 
Shadow of She Beast II 
(Psygnosis for Amiga). The 
original was unbelievable. 
I his sequel is even better. 
Only arcade virtuosos are 
up tb the difficulties of this 
brutal jump-and-punch spec- 




tacular. But even the defeat- 
ed return again and again 
to rpam eerie caverns, chal- 
lenge horrifying monster's, 
and savor animated graph- 
ics that rank with the finest 
fantasy art. 

BEST SHOOTER: Turn- 
can (Innerprise for Amiga). 
It's fast. It's colorful. It's non- 
stop destruction. Once 
again the action masters of 
Innerprise take honors for a 
Ijiui'stic laser test. The task 
is simple: Chase robotic bad 
guys through 13 levels 
while wielding an array of 
high-tech firepower. 

BEST ROLE-PLAYING 
GAME: Ultima WfOrigin Sys- 
tems for MS-DOS). Richard- 
"Lord British" Garriott reaf- 
firmed his role-playing bril- 
liance with the sixth and 
best Ultima yet. Ultima VI: 
The False Prophet boasts an 
ingeniously improved inter- 
face,- remarkable 256-color 
graphics^ and'a vast wo'rld 
of prodigious details. 

BEST PUZZLE GAME: 
Pipe Dream {Lucasfilm 
Games lor Macintosh, Ami- 
ga, MS-DOS). Greeh slime 
oozes relentlessly through 
the sewer system. Only you 
can pull new pipes off the as- 
sembly line and keep the 
gunk contained. It'sadisgust- 
mq proposition that remains 
endlessly fascinating. 

BEST STRATEGY GAME: 
Railroad Tycoon (Micro- 
Prose for MS-DOS). Some 
kids dream of becoming 
Donald Trump; others with 
computers imitate J. P; Mor- 
gan, profitably stretching 
a ribbon of rails from coast 
to coast. The re-creation 
of railroad empire building is 
remarkably deep, yet in- 
stantly accessible. 



BEST SIMULATION: 
SimEarth (Maxis for MS- 
DOS), the follow-up to the 

admired SimCiiy. is an enor- 
mously comprehensive 
world simulator. It takes a 
probing mind to control 
the ecological, sociological, 
and geographical depths 
in tnis scientifically accurate 
simulation. Even so, Sim- 
Earth remains the best way 
to amuse yourself while 
training for employment as a 
divine being. 

BEST SPORTS GAME: 
Indianapolis. 500: The Simu- 
lation '(Electronic Arts for MS- 
DOS, Amiga). Eye-popping 
3-D graphics allow you to 
watch the race from the sky, 
from the stands, or from 
behind the wheel. State-of- 
the-art computer technology 
combines with a finertuned . 
dnving "feel" to make In- 
dianapolis 500 a freewheel- 
ing thrill, particularly when 
you accidentally spin 180° 
and drive straight at your 
oncoming competitors. 

BEST ADVENTURE 
GAME: The Secret of Mon- 
key Island (Lucasfilm 
Games for MS-DOS). This 
tongue-in-cheek send-up of 
pirate lore is one of the most 
laugh-filled, engaging adven- 
ture games ever made. 

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT 
AWARD: Wings (Cine- 
maware for Amiga) is the 
first war game with a con- 
science. This interactive dra- 
ma and flight simulator con- 
veys' both the triumphs and 
loss experienced by World 
War I pilots-. Thrilling, touch- 
ing, and enlightening, 
Wings tempers and intensi- 
fies its action sequences 
with vivid flashes of humani- 
ty. — Bob LindstromDQ 



LAST WORD 



DEATH BY SHAKESPEARE: 

Reacting may be fundamental, but too much 

could be detrimental to your health 



Khephra Bums is 

a freelance 

writer with fears 

of reaching 

an extremely large 

audience. 



In 1991 no one could have imag- 
ined the ramifications of peo- 
ple's eyeballs darting back and 
forth in uncontrollable spasms. 
Ten years later it's accepted as 
just one more weird symptom of 
what is now known as compulsive 
literacy disorder (CLD), a disease 
that compels people to read them- 
selves to death. 

CLD victims, of course, don't 
succumb to the illness itself but 
to complications produced by 
reading everything that falls into 
their hands. Having ploughed 
through the complete works of 
Franz Kafka in the course of an af- 
ternoon, for example, one rising 
young comic committed suicide. ' 
And a particularly desperate 
young man died suddenly of a 
brain aneurysm after reading a 
1,000-page legal brief belonging 
to a contract lawyer. 

While books can be had at a 
premium, patience is in short sup- 
ply. A public recitation of nearly 




900 pounds of poetry published 
by Vanity Press was cut short 
when, halfway through the first vol- 
ume, the reciter was mercifully 
shot. Other, less discriminating lis- 
teners then proceeded to scav- 
enge his books. 

Christian fundamentalists cite 
Scripture as evidence that CLD is 
divine retribution for the sin of seek- 
ing original thought. But doctors 
tracking CLD now believe a recom- 
binant computer virus, scrambled 
with an Evelyn Wood speed-read- 
ing program, was "accidentally" 
transferred to humans. 

The latest conspiracy theory: 
The government, frustrated with 
the poor quality of our education- 
al system and Japan's domi- 
nance in every field, actually plant- 
ed the virus in segments of the 
population. Neurologists, howev- 
er, speculate that the transfer oc- 
curred in the same way that phys- 
ical therapy forges new neural 
pathways in the brain of a stroke 
victim — by exercising the affect- 
ed limbs. Certain sequences of 
keystrokes on a computer key- 
board, they suggest, created a 
route for the virus to find a home 
in the nervous system. 

Progress in the treatment of 
CLD has been slow and the fall- 
out has been devastating. Librar- 
ies are looted, people mug each 
other in the streets for as little as 
a paragraph, and violent domes- 
tic quarrels erupt over who has 
reading rights to the printed ma- 
terial on the backs of milk cartons 
and cereal boxes. 

According to some estimates, 
moreover, nearly 4 million people 
have earned the equivalent of a 
Ph.D. in one field or another, vir- 
tually overnight. With no jobs for 
these people, thousands of them 
have been rounded up and car- 
ried off to "think tanks." 

To meet the growing demand, 

newspapers in New York, Chica- 

\ and San Francisco have 

ra-'slical y increased their 

press runs. Dailies now put 



out morning, afternoon, and eve- 
ning editions. The tragic result: For- 
ests are dwindling. Paper isn't be- 
ing recycled because people 
hang on to any scrap with some- 
thing printed on it. 

The phenomenon has led to all 
sorts of human rights abuses: Writ- 
ers are blamed and persecuted 
on one side and hunted by profi- 
teers on the other, Some have 
been kidnapped, shackled to writ- 
ing desks, and forced to produce, 
day and night, regardless of inspi- 
ration. Others, working at comput- 
ers, contract the disease them- 
selves and quit writing to join the 
roving hordes of what one edito- 
rial called "gluttons for publish- 
ment. " One popular author, pro- 
lific under the best of circumstanc- 
es, churned out a 20,000-page 
novel in a single weekend. The 
impatient mob of fans on his front 
lawn rioted when he spontaneous- 
ly combusted on Sunday night. 

Reading treatment centers are 
popping up everywhere, but 
their staffs' efforts to wean people 
from the printed word and reintro- 
duce them to television and vid- 
eos have backfired: Patients rou- 
tinely fast-forward through taped 
programs to get to the credits. 

Even so, researchers are no- 
where near a cure and paranoia 
runs rampant. People don't dare 
pull their own reading material out 
in public anymore, especially on 
the subway. Indeed, as a result 
of increasing subway crime, peo- 
ple have returned to cars in 
droves, clogging the nation's high- 
ways and byways. The conges- 
tion is exacerbated by the colli- 
sions that regularly occur around 
billboards and traffic signs. 

And what do the victims do 
while they're waiting for ambulanc- 
es? They read bumper stickers, 
which often run to several para- 
graphs. Three of the most poign- 
ant examples, however, state sim- 
ply: IGNORANCE IS BLISS, JUST SAY 

no to books, and BETTER read 

THAN DEAD. DO